New Year’s free-for-all – December 31, 2016 – January 1, 2017

paper-dollsThis comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

{ 1,226 comments… read them below }

  1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

    Hey all! I’ve been waiting all week to share this with the AAM commentariat.

    So, some backstory first… My in-laws routinely keep our 15-month-old son for Hubby and me. Christmas night, they decided to keep him. All day the day after Christmas, Hubby and I cleaned our house and unpacked Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite get finished. In conversation with my FIL, Hubby mentioned that our son was going to daycare on Tuesday, and the inlaws went bananas. They ended up deciding to keep him another night so he wouldn’t have to go to daycare.

    Well Tuesday, I hadn’t heard from my MIL all morning, so around lunchtime, I texted her and asked if she was still mad at me. Below is the text I got back, edited for identifying details:

    Was never mad. It just upsets me to know that y’all don’t want to spend time with the most precious gift either of you will ever have. I love spending time with him more than anything. My heart aches because I don’t see the bond between him and the two of you. No one sees it. He spends so much time at daycare and I understand that, but only when you’re WORKING. You and Hubby should WANT to spend your time off with your child. I feel so bad for [son] because y’all act like you don’t even want him. I have cried so many tears over this Ariel and prayed so many prayers. I pray that God will give you and Hubby the desire to want to make [son] your TOP Priority. I love that baby more than life Ariel and I love you and Hubby too. I hope you don’t think that this is the way it’s supposed to be because it is not. A child is not supposed to be an inconvenience, a child is supposed to be your purpose for living, your EVERYTHING. I am not saying anything that I wouldn’t say to my own kids if they did this. I hope you let Hubby see this and the two of you think about it. If I have said anything wrong then I will apologize, but I don’t think I have. I love y’all and I hope you take this as me trying to help and not judging you.

    Well… to say we were flabbergasted is an understatement. I pretty much gave her the silent treatment for two days, which is a huge departure from our normal routine of 2-3 phone conversations and numerous texts on a daily basis. She noticed, and she and my FIL came over Thursday to talk about everything. Unfortunately, my husband was at work and so didn’t get the full benefit of the conversation. Turns out, Monday when my FIL told Hubby they were bringing our son home, Hubby asked his dad if [son] was being a dick. Not saying that that’s not a totally inappropriate thing to say, but what he was really asking was if [son] was being overwhelmingly demanding and wanting attention. That one comment, in addition to listening to other people’s opinions about our family dynamic, apparently just built up in my MIL’s mind until she just unleashed the above tirade on me the next afternoon.

    I’m glad to report that everything is mostly resolved and only mildly stilted and awkward as we try to move forward, but I just HAD to share with the AAM family.

    Thanks for reading all, and hopefully your Christmases, Hanukahs, Kwanzaas, etc. were far less dramatic than mine!
    PS – I’ve already addressed the language and choice of words with Hubby, so I’d appreciate it if commenters would refrain from elaborating on the inappropriateness of what he said.:-)

    1. Nella*

      I feel for you. Both me and my husband work full time. Our daughter goes to daycare. My mom takes her in over night at once a week when she is not working on weekends. It’s really tough. A pig counting toy taught her how to count. Another toy is teaching her to sing the alphabet. My parents understand we love our daughter and know there are times when I send her to daycare when I have a day off to give me a break and my mom a break to run errands and clean.

      We are machines and need time apart from our children to get things done. This has nothing to do with being a bad parent. In fact I would say you are a super parent for working and having a child without being a stay at home parent.

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        It has been challenging. My husband is a career firefighter so I knew when I married him that we would always be a 2-income household. I’ve struggled a lot with the mom guilt.
        My MIL has actually been a huge source of guidance and support so that’s why her text had me so gobsmacked.

        1. Michele*

          I mean this with the kindest intent. If your MIL is someone you respect and love, perhaps you should think about what she’s saying. This is the most formative time of your child’s life – his brain is growing at an astronomical rate – and you don’t get these years back. As good as you might consider your daycare to be, it’s still the hired help and they are caregivers, not parents.

          If your child is acting out to the point your husband calls him a dick (and what an immature thing for a father to say) then perhaps you should consider that he needs more attention than the daycare gives him. He’s been on this Earth only 15 months and at this age he has needs, not wants. His “demands for attention” is a big red flag that he’s not getting enough of that.

          Lastly, why do you put your child in daycare when you don’t have to? Your MIL wrote “I feel so bad for [son] because y’all act like you don’t even want him.” Don’t you want to spend more time with your sweet little boy than a daycare worker does?

            1. AshK434*

              Am I missing something? How are the first two paragraphs rude? The third paragraph *was* judgmental, but the first two paragraphs just offer a different perspective and one that might be right. Just because something might be difficult to hear doesn’t make it horrible, rude or mean-spirited.

              1. AnonEMoose*

                She knows only what was said in the post, which is a tiny, tiny fraction of information regarding the OP. And is judging her whole life based on it. No matter how you slice it, that is presumptuous, rude, and absolutely not helpful in any way.

                It’s like people finding out I don’t have – and don’t want – children, knowing basically nothing else about me, and deciding on that basis that I must be selfish, hate children, and/or be obsessed with my career.

          1. tink*

            I can’t believe you’re calling people who work at a daycare “the hired help”… just, wow. Not to mention how rude, inappropriate, and demeaning your comments and guilt trip towards Ariel are.

            1. Blinky*

              well.. they are hired caregivers…they are not parents or grandparents or autns or uncles.. so why is that a “wow” statement? Unless you mean it in that your reading it the way someone says their maid is “just the help” or something? I dont think that is what poster Michele meant.

              1. chickabiddy*

                There are many many cases where a child is better off with a hired, trained, supervised, and regulated professional caregiver than with a grandparent or aunt or uncle. (This is a general statement and not meant to imply anything at all about the OP’s MIL.)

          2. Ruthie*

            You’re the worst, Burr.

            Ariel, please don’t let this comment faze you. There’s a whole brand of parents who think that if you don’t put your kid on the highest pedestal in the land, you are a failed parent. I have jokingly called my toddler names to my spouse and our friends–NEVER when our kidlet is actually around–just because humor helps me process the challenges of raising a toddler. Also, sometimes kids are dicks (or jerks or butts). It’s not a crime to acknowledge that. In fact, saying these things in my head while my kid throws a temper tantrum has helped me stay cool, collected and loving when it would be easy not to.

            I also sometimes bring her to daycare when I don’t have to work but still have errands that aren’t appropriate for a toddler–cleaning out our very dangerous basement, for example. (btw, our daycare teachers are not hired help. They are family, and my kid is so lucky to be surrounded by such a loving, diverse, and invested family.) We are human, we have needs. We become better, more loving, caring, and patient parents when we acknowledge those needs (and stop talking ourselves so seriously). That was my big lesson in 2016.

            1. JKP*

              I would add that the parents I’ve seen that put their children on a pedestal ended up with entitled assholes as adults. In my family all the relatives who turned out the worst (irresponsible, can’t hold a job, expect everything handed to them) are the ones whose parents treated them like the center of their universe.

              Yes, parents should want to spend time with their children, but not ALL their time. It’s okay to want time for other friends and relationships too, not to mention self-care, plus all the other non-paid work that goes on in a household. And kids do benefit from time away from parents also – practice socializing with a wider variety of people, picking up different skills beyond their family of origin.

            2. Tellyride*

              Perfect response, Ruthie!
              Calling a baby a not-so-nice name (dick, jerk, wuss, brat) out of earshot is so very normal/common and part of the coping humor of parenting.
              I also take my baby to daycare all 5 days of the week, even though I only work four days. The last day is my one chance to do laundry, cook, run errands, get the car repaired, go to the bank, and do hundreds of other tasks for the sake of my family, so that I can actually devote my time to my little one on the weekends.
              Bonding is not simply linked to the number of hours spent together. I was extremely close to my grandparents as a little child and I only saw them once a year. Believe me, kids know who their parents are no matter the daycare situation.
              OP, I’m so sorry your MIL was so obtuse and out of line.

            3. Blinky*

              A 15 month old is NEVER a “dick” or a “jerk” or a “butt.” I honestly dont care what language he referred to the kid as, he is 15 MONTHS old. He is just learning how to communicate, just learned to walk in the last 4-6 months. This is NOT a toddler or a kid. This is a BABY. I’m weirded out by some of these comments that see this as okay. There is a reason a 15 MONTH OLD BABY might be difficult and I’m sorry, but just because this person posts on AaM doesn’t mean that they are a good person. It is highly possible they aren’t and they actually didn’t want their kid and the MIL’s observations might actually be based in FACT and in actually knowing these people and seeing their detachment from their “needy” 15 month old BABY.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Of course that’s possible — but we have no indicator that that’s the case, and certainly nothing to support some of the harsher comments that have been made here about the OP’s very normal-sounding use of day care. Moreover, the mother-in-law’s usage of a text message to deliver such a serious and upsetting message doesn’t exactly scream “credible and somberly made point.”

              2. Ruthie*

                @Blinky That’s fine that you choose to parent (or not parent) with no sense of humor, but many of us do. And for many of us, that sense of humor makes us better parents–not bad people. If you want to observe what truly suffering children go through, I suggest signing up to be a foster parent.

                Also, since you are such an expert, you may be surprised to learn that a baby does indeed become a toddler at twelve months, according to most pediatricians and early childhood specialists.

          3. AJ*

            Is the Open Thread meant to be used for support *only* or also constructive criticism/advice? Alison gives constructive criticism all the time. I think Michele brings up some very good points – especially the part about “if your MIL is someone you respect…l” The only part of Michele’s comment in my opinion that is a bit rude are the last few sentences. I personally think it’s s bit weird to call your kid a dick to your father – seems disrespectful/boundary crossing to the father. I could see having conversations like this with each other (parents) or with other parents the same age experiencing the same challenges.

            1. AnonEMoose*

              I disagree. I’m willing to grant that Michele may have had good intent – but in my opinion, she (and the others posting along those lines) are way, WAY out of line. Parent shaming at its finest, and it’s no more acceptable than it is to shame me for my choice to not reproduce.

              The MIL’s message is so over the top pearl clutching that it would be laughable if it wasn’t so infuriating.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              No, it’s not a support-only place — but it’s also not a place where rudeness is okay, and shaming someone simply because they have their kid in day care is pretty over the line.

              “Is it worth seeing if there’s something useful in your MIL’s perspective?” is fine. “Don’t you want to spend more time with your kid than a daycare worker does?” is not.

          4. Preppy6917*

            I’m with you on this, Michele. If someone needs to put their kid in daycare while cleaning house and unpacking gifts (how many gifts can there be?), I would really question the suitability of the parents.

            1. Tellyride*

              Then you are questioning the suitability of nearly every parent I know. Nearly all of my friends are full-time working parents and occasionally need someone else to take care of their kids while they get things done around the house. I am 100% supportive of parents who are able to get everything in their lives done with no help and no breaks. But that’s certainly not me! I need mental and physical breaks sometimes in order to be an engaged and happy parent when I’m with my little one.

              BTW, are you implying that parents should keep their kindergartener home from school any time they personally have a day off? Day care is not so very different from school. It’s a place where the baby can learn and socialize and play and nap and be cared for and loved. Not some neglectful place.

              1. SarahKay*

                When my godson was 15 months old one of the most helpful things I could do for his Mom was to take him on a tour of all the door handles and pulls for the window-blinds in the house (at that age he was fascinated by them and would play with them for hours but not quite tall enough to reach them on his own) while she got house-stuff done (cleaning, bill-paying, cat-litter-box emptying, whatever) with a clear run. I adore my godson, but I did not in any way judge her for wanting this time because 15 month old kids are into everything and boy does it make a normal task take a lot longer if they’re there, ‘helping’. And I mean two or three times as long, not just 10-15% longer!

          5. MashaKasha*

            Sorry, I’m late to this party and no one will probably see my comment, but I want to ask, beg, plead OP to please not pay attention to Michele’s comment above, MIL’s text, and the like. From personal experience, my sons are 21 and soon-to-be 24. We are one of the closest, tightest-knit families that I’ve ever seen. We survived this election, in which my sons voted for two opposing candidates, with barely an argument. The 24yo moved to the West Coast after college and then moved back this year, because he missed us. They both moved back into my (pretty small for three adults) house last summer, and we are all enjoying living together. We just had their father over for dinner, whom I divorced seven years ago, and it was the nicest family dinner. A model family!! Well guess what. When they were young, I felt tired and worn out and needed me time, they spent time with their grandparents, and they both started daycare when they were toddlers. I tend to get very tired and irritable from lack of sleep, from being pulled in ten different directions at once, from not having a minute to myself, which are all a normal day-to-day part of living with a toddler or toddlers. I needed a break from that every now and then. I did not hover over my kids every minute of every day, and they turned out great. (Academically, as well – let’s be honest, a child’s intellectual capacity is 90% hereditary, and close to 0% dependent on whether they went to daycare or not – so you should probably stop with dropping those hints on OP.) As they should’ve been. It is daycare, not a torture chamber for kids. I grew up in daycare too. My mother worked fulltime her whole life, and her mother did too when she was little. I honestly think that a lot of the pushback against daycare that I’ve seen here in the US is cultural. People remember their mothers staying home and cannot process the idea that it does not have to be that way. Somehow some of them decide that the best way to cope with this new idea that both parents can work is to unload craploads of guilt on working parents. No. My advice to these people would be, whenever you feel the urge to hit someone where it hurts just because you don’t understand the life they live, shut your mouth and make sure it remains shut until the urge goes away.

            1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

              OP here! I appreciate your comment. As much as I can appreciate other points of view, the fact of the matter is that my husband and I require two incomes to pay all our bills and eat every month, which necessitates daycare because we have no SAH family or friends that can keep him. Not to mention, I love my child very, very much, but I’m just not sure that it’s in my nature to be a SAHM. I admire SAH parents very much because the 6 weeks of maternity leave had me on the verge of a breakdown. My work is very much a part of my self-identity, so being at home was a struggle for me.
              I like that daycare provides structure and routine. They have the same breakfast, snack, lunch, and naptimes every day except for holidays when they do little celebrations, and the director is very hands on. I can text her any time day or night with concerns, and her staff are pretty great.

              1. New Bee*

                Your choices sound like they work for you OP! My baby is younger than yours (I’m still on mat leave), but we similarly have no family or friends nearby to babysit, and a apart from the expense I think daycare, especially being around other kids and people who know how to stimulate them appropriately, is going to be a great option for us. At least in my family (and to an extent, culturally), they mean well, but “keeping” kids means leaving them to entertain themselves. It worked out OK for me–I had multiple siblings close in age (playmates), TV with limited channels/viewing hours, toys, and I loved to read, but I don’t want my kid parked in front of the TV/iPad all day, and at least for me that’s easier to navigate with a trained caregiver.

      2. Bwooster*

        I don’t have kids and never wanted any but man oh man do I feel bad for parents these days. In the eyes of others, it’s like they can’t do anything right! Working and therefore putting kids in daycare? Wrong! Not working and staying home with kids and therefore not earning? Wrong too! Friends and family judge parents like it’s their second job. Argh, so frustrating to see it much less be a target of it.

        1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

          Agree! Parent shaming in general is just wrong. There’s the breastfeed vs. formula debate, daycare vs. stay at home, disposable diapers vs. cloth… you can pick anything and make an argument out of it, but it just seems to me like people ought to trust parents to do what’s right in their unique situations.

          1. No, please*

            Yes! I thought I would only breast feed, return to work and use cloth diapers at home. But, I stay home with my two year old, formula fed due to inability to produce milk and use store brand diapers. He’s healthy and it works for us. Even when you plan and try hard, you ultimately have to do what’s best for the whole family.

          2. Bonky*

            I’m having a baby (my first – I’ll have turned 41 a month before the birth, which feels agonisingly old to be doing this for the first time) in April. The age thing’s actually a bit of a blessing: I feel better able and better equipped to deal with the parent-shaming thing than I would have been when I was younger and had less assertiveness and less life experience. I’m already experiencing a degree of the shaming and control just as a very visibly pregnant lady. (Don’t eat that/is there alcohol in that/you really shouldn’t/you really should…)

            I am also blessed with a wonderfully rational and sane obstetrician who has already sat me down to point out that I will meet some very opinionated people on this journey, and has been ultra-encouraging about my choices being paramount.

            Friends of mine have been brought really, really low by being accosted by wellmeaning malevolent idiots who have criticised their breastfeeding “choices” (both women this has happened to were unable to breastfeed, not through choice) in public when seeing them use a bottle. Who are these people who think this stuff is OK?

            1. AnonEMoose*

              How do they even know that it isn’t breast milk in the bottle? At least one friend of mine ended up expressing milk and giving it to her infant from a bottle, because once the baby had had the bottle, she wouldn’t latch on to the breast any more.

              Seriously, the rudeness, judgment, and parent shaming in this thread is really sad to see.

              1. New Bee*

                I was going to mention this (not that it’s anyone’s business if the friend is using breastmilk or formula anyway), but my baby is exclusively breastfed and taking a bottle of pumped milk right now–my husband gives them to her at night on weekends so I can get a slightly longer stretch of sleep.

        2. AnonEMoose*

          I so agree with this. Don’t have kids, don’t want them. And have dealt with plenty of judgmental, condescending comments because of it. But I know that if I actually were a parent, it would be worse, because it does seem like parents can’t do anything right sometimes. Everyone has an opinion, it seems. So I try to give my friends who are parents a safe space to vent, and only offer an opinion if asked for one.

    2. Episkey*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking if your own kid is being a dick lol. Sometimes kids are jerks.

      1. FD*

        Yeah, I think you kind of have to? I mean, kids don’t know what’s OK social behavior and what isn’t until you teach them, and some behavior may not show up when you’re with the kid.

        1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

          I’m glad yall understand the sentiment! It’s not that hubby actually thinks our kid is a dick, but it’s realllllyyyy stressful when he gets tired and grouchy and wants to be picked up but then as soon as you pick him up he wants to get down and he does it like 95 times in a row.

          1. bunniferous*

            All toddlers are little tyrants. But I can see why that particular choice of words might not have been taken the right way by the grandparents. Heh.

            1. esra (also a Canadian)*

              I’ve called my niece a tiny dictator on more than one occasion. I absolutely love her, but she’s two. Which means she is a total dick sometimes.

          2. Karin*

            Even the nicest, best-behaved kids an be dicks sometimes. I let my ten-year-old stay up for the festivities last night, and he’s being a real dick this morning.

            When he was little and in daycare, yes, there were times we put him in daycare when I wasn’t actually at work. If I was cleaning the basement or going to the gynecologist, you bet he went to daycare and played with other kids all day.

      2. Jessie the First (or second)*

        The comedian Louis CK has a really funny bit where he talks about how his kids are a$$holes sometimes. (Yeah, it sounds mean written down – but honestly, it’s funny! I swear!) He says something like if you were going out with friends but had to cancel your plans/be late because one of them absolutely refused to put on shoes, you’d think that friend was a jerk.

        I have a million kids, they’ve all been a crazy pain in the butt at times. So it made me laugh.

      3. Blinky*

        I do see something absolutely wrong in referring to a BABY this way. Any “needy” behavior from a BABY who can’t do anything for themselves yet does not make this child anything other than a NORMAL BABY. So to label him as some kind of burden or as having a personality flaw as an infant really bothers me. I would NEVER refer to my BABY that way. My older kids can sometimes be grating and I don’t always think they are nice or behaving well, but I would never look at a BABY this way. Or refer to them as such. If you think a needy baby is annoying… smh.. I dont even know what else to say. This is super weird.

        1. chickabiddy*

          “Normal” babies and toddlers can be annoying at times. I don’t think that is such a surprise that you have to shake your head over it. I love my child with all my heart (as I’m sure the OP loves hers), but I didn’t love wiping butt or dealing with meltdowns. Since you seem to think that it’s okay to be annoyed with older kids, what is the cutoff?

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Not to mention the pearl-clutching repeated capitalization of BABY. Infants and toddlers are demanding, that’s just their nature, because they can’t be any other way. Parents are allowed to be human, and to find that frustrating, difficult, exhausting, whatever.

            As long as the child is being cared for, and is not being told this to his/her face or hearing it said, I think it’s actually a good thing for parents to admit that, some days, it’s really tough, and even though they know rationally that it’s not something the child is doing on purpose or to be annoying – sometimes, it’s still annoying.

          2. SarahKay*

            A needy baby (or toddler) sometimes is annoying. It doesn’t mean you love it less, or that you think it’s doing it on purpose. It doesn’t make you a bad person that you find your baby annoying, it makes you human. And for some people, that annoyance can be diffused by joking about what your child is doing / how it’s behaving.

        2. Marzipan*

          But of course babies are annoying. Obviously they don’t do it (or anything, really) on purpose, but the end result is still bouts of exhaustion and frustration for everyone around them when they’re woken up/thrown up on/bashed in the face with a plastic car for the umpteenth time. I was a super-chill baby and yet I’m sure I was an absolute pain in the arse. I think you think people are ascribing motive to babies when describing them in (mildly) insulting terms, and to me that seems super weird, because that’s really not what anyone is doing.

        3. Ruthie*

          You “would NEVER” refer to your baby that way? So you aren’t a parent? Ok.

          (I’m not saying that non-parents can’t contribute to this conversation, just that they shouldn’t lecture actual parents about the very normal and healthy ways they cope with the challenges of parenthood.)

        4. Ruthie*

          Ok, I got my snarky response out of my way. Here’s my more generous one.

          Given your verb tense (and lack of knowledge about when toddlerdom officially starts), I assume you are not a parent. In the case that you do want to be a parent someday, I’d like to offer you some unsolicited advice. Becoming a mother is literally the hardest thing I have ever done (I had my daughter as a doctoral student, and yes, parenting is way harder than writing a dissertation). But it’s also the best. If you do become a parent someday, I hope you’ll allow yourself to laugh about the poop, the tantrums over the wrong color milk cup, the bathtime antics. I hope that you’ll have someone safe and loving to make jokes with, someone who will laugh with you while they hug you. I hope that when you hear people disapprove of your parenting choices–and people will, no matter what your choices are–that you’ll rise above and feel confident knowing that you are doing your best to shelter, feed, and care for your little peanut. I hope that when you make a mistake and yell, snap, or name-call in the heat of the moment (because no matter your intentions, you will make a mistake at least a few times in those first few years), you will learn from that mistake and then forgive yourself. Mostly, I hope that you’ll show yourself more compassion and empathy as a parent than you are showing other people here.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This is sad. It appears they offer to take the child and then complain because they HAVE the child. I have little patience for the double talk.
      I have seen all different approaches to grandparenting. Personally, my family would have been very hands off. But I have friends who are very involved and take the kid every chance they get. I think the latter choice is healthier for the kid and for the grandparents. And it’s great for the parents, too.

      I am not sure how you rebuild trust after this. How do you know you can let them take your child and they won’t yell at you for it later. And I am wondering if MIL has her own full set of abandonment issues that have nothing to with you, hubby or child. I may be a lesser person but at this point I would be seriously considering never letting them take the child again. Ugh.I am sorry this happened to you especially during the holidays. You seem to be dealing with it very well.

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        Both my husband and I have divorced parents, so our grandparents were pretty influential in both our lives, and we want our son to have that same experience. My husband’s dad and stepmom (the MIL in this story) spend the most time with him of all of our parents and we generally have had a great relationship. That’s why this all came as such a shock.
        In our conversation to clear the air, some additional stuff came to light where I think people are telling her that she spends too much time with our son, and that just really got to her, but the way I see it, it’s nobody’s business but mine and my husband’s how much time he spends with his grandparents (and the grandparents’ business of course).

        1. neverjaunty*

          Sure, but as Not So NewReader says, they were offering to do something nice for you and then punishing you for saying yes. That’s a pretty crappy thing to do.

          (I am sure you are not as vindictive as I am, but in your shoes, I’d probably explain politely to the ILs that we were absolutely taking her words to heart and not wanting her to have her heart ache, and then would never ask her to watch Son again. Ever.)

          1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

            My knee jerk reaction that I withheld because I have a fairly level head was exactly that, but that sort of reaction would really only harm my son because I do know he enjoys being with them. But trust me, the thought did cross my mind!

    4. Anne*

      Oh man, I would be super annoyed to receive that text. I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old and I love them both with everything I have. I also enjoy time around the house by myself to get stuff done without a toddler in the way, and I don’t think that means I have no bond with him.

      And yes, sometimes kids are dicks. :)

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        Yeah, the text was pretty shocking. I love my son, but he’s a bit of a clinger, so it’s hard to do chores with him around, and there’s just never enough time during a normal week to get everything done. We pretty much just live out of laundry baskets. :-) lol

    5. LibbyG*

      Dang! How can someone even respond to that? It feels absurd to try to explain that your child is your priority and you do want to spend time with him. It seems like genuine concern and love, but with some weirdly distorted perspective. Baffling and upsetting! I’m glad you could talk through it. Good on you!

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        Thanks! It was just one of those WTF moments that I wanted to get some anonymous thoughts on.

    6. Overeducated*

      How awful!

      One thing one of my friends said that helps me wit the mom guilt, and might be worth saying to your MIL, is that day care is “part of your village.” Yes, the provers are paid (because they are trained, licensed, regulated, and available), but they are also individuals who care about your kid and give you necessary support beyond the family.

      1. Anne*

        I love this. Daycare is definitely a huge part of my village. All of the teachers have loved my son since he started there at three months old and now love his little brother too.

      2. Ren*

        This! The villiage is so important and if it’s just parents, who are exhausted and busy with chores, all the time the kid can miss out on so much. Our three year old blossomed in his current childcare set up, he went from being under special measures for language delay to being one of the chattiest and politest kids you’ll ever meet. All the stuff we tried didn’t work but putting him in a class with other kids gave him someone to emulate. My in laws are absolutely horrified that we send him to daycare 5 hours a day when I work from him while we (and his medical team) wish we could double it. Though they won’t care for him until he’s totally independent, which apparently happens by magic.

      3. TootsNYC*

        oh yes!!!

        My MIL said to me, when my daughter was 6 months old: “Do you think she knows she is being taken care of by strangers?”

        I said, “They aren’t strangers to her! She’s known them half of her life. She sees more of them than she sees of you. She knows them better, and probably loves them more, than she knows you!”

        My kid had a blast at daycare.

        1. C Average*

          My stepdaughter, who is 14, still fondly remembers the people who worked at the daycare she attended when she was small. When her parents’ marriage was disintegrating, they represented familiarity and stability. Every time we walk by that building, she smiles and shares warm memories of her time there. They may have gotten paid (probably not much, based on industry norms), but they were definitely not strangers.

          1. RKB*

            My parents were full time workers when I was a kid. They found an older lady at our temple who was willing to look after me 5 days a week for a rate less than local daycares.

            I saw her last week at the temple. The two of us cried. That woman brought me up for years. She is as important to me as my parents. I do not think of her as a stranger. I think of her as someone who cared for me with as much love and kindness as one can hope for their child.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yes! There were plenty of times when I sent my kids to daycare and had a day at home for myself, or to do housework, or to go out shopping. It doesn’t mean you don’t love and cherish them if you take a day to have some time for yourself while they are in trusted care!

    7. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

      Husband should talk to them IMO. Tell them exactly how this made BOTH of you feel. I would be very upset if my MIL texted or said this to me. She has given you valuable information about herself & you should believe what she said. I also would cut waay back on my daily contact with her. She does not get to decide what kind of parents you are or how you live your life as a family.

      And yes, as a mother of 4, kids can be dicks.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        I’m seconding this. They are his parents, and it’s his job to run interference. The way his mother impugned your parenting and love for your child (?!) is a major violation of trust. For myself, I would recommend not letting them watch kiddo for the forseeable and get a sitter; after all, sometimes the cheapest way to pay is money. When they’ve proven they can treat you like people they actually like and respect, you can revisit the issue.

      2. anoninfl*

        I hate to be the voice of dissent, but maybe you should look at what she’s saying and see if maybe you are relying on them too much for childcare/if there is truth that you may not be spending much time with your child. If I understand correctly, your in-laws decided to keep your child on Christmas night (which makes it sound like they had him most Christmas day? Plus – you’re the parents – why do they decide they get to ‘keep’ him?) Then he spent the entire next day with them so you and your husband could clean your house . Then you tell him he’ll be away from you the following day and again, they decide to keep him. Unless I am misunderstanding, this means your inlaws had your child from some point on Christmas, Christmas night, all day the next day, that entire night and then again on Tuesday because you weren’t willing/capable of watching him. That’s basically over 48 hours of someone else caring for your child even though you were home. I hate to say it, but I think your inlaws might be burned out and I find it bizarre that you wouldn’t want to spend at least some of your time off with your child, especially around the holidays. Again, I only know what you’ve said and I’m not trying to make you feel bad, but instead of assuming the worst of her, maybe look at the situation and see if there is some truth to it.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          I agree with a lot of this (including the disclaimers—we obviously don’t have a ton of context). Your child is little, and it sounds like you don’t get a ton of time with him because of work. Your MIL probably thought you’d jump at the chance to spend time with him once you had it, and she can’t understand why you wouldn’t. It’s easy to get emotional when you feel like someone isn’t caring for your child/grandchild the way you think the kid deserves.

          I’m coming from a place of sympathy for you: I also have a small child in a two-career household. It’s really hard to have no free time. Even when you get a break from work, there’s no break from parenting. All of you must be under a lot of stress.

          1. GraceW*

            Maybe Grandma might offer to pay for a cleaner or laundry service once in a while so the kid can spend time with his parents. Kids matter more than chores, I think.

            1. Artemesia*

              How is this Grandma’s problem? I agree that a text is a monstrous way to convey this kind of information/viewpoint to the parents. Writing tendentious emails or letters always ALWAYS has a bad outcome. But the substance of the criticism deserves a hearing. A toddler is sent off for two days during a rare time the parents have off? And a 15 month old is a handful for old people for that length of time. If this is a pattern then Grandma’s point may be well taken; that is a lot of time to pawn off a child of working parents who sees them little enough. I have to assume this is not a Christian family or a secular family that celebrates Christmas as I can’t imagine farming out the toddler over Christmas if it is something the family celebrates. So Grandma may have a point that the toddler needs more of his parents. And she undoubtedly has a point that this is too much time for her to care for a toddler at her age. ‘She volunteered’ is besides the point. Grandparents agree to do things that are difficult for them out of love and concern for their grandchild. I know that I certainly agreed to care for my grandchild when the parents needed it for several days due to work travel; my volunteering doesn’t make it any less difficult to care for a toddler at my age for several days. While I am glad to do it, it is still hard to do.

        2. Temperance*

          I’m going to jump in her and say that I agree with you in part. Well, more specifically, I agree with the part about her in-laws overstepping. They aren’t her parents, and they certainly aren’t any kind of authority over the kid.

          They reamed her out because she wanted to take him to day care, which, BTW, OP is paying for whether she’s dropping her son off or not. And yes, if she’s doing a major deep clean, having a kid underfoot would be difficult.

          I think daycare is far more enriching than spending time with extended family, so I would have declined the offer.

          1. anoninfl*

            I just want to be clear that I have absolutely no issue with daycare or with in-laws helping out now and then. I actually think daycare specifically can be really important for the kid’s development and of course to give parents peace of mind and a break.

            But (and again, I could be totally off-base here) to me it sounds like the father in law called his son to say that after watching their kid overnight and all day, they were ready to drop him off… to which the son responded something along the lines of “oh is he being a dick?” instead of assuming, “oh, right you probably have plans/need a break from him/our kid might want to come home.” Regardless of word choice, the kid could have been being an angel and the in laws were just tired from watching him and wanted him to go home to his own mom and dad, but then felt like the kid was unwanted by his own parents. It sounds to me like the in-laws pick up a lot of slack and may just be frustrated with the situation and feel as though they have the kid’s best interest at heart.

            1. JKP*

              Except that if the issue were that the in-laws wanted a break from the child, the parents had already intended to take the child to daycare on the cleaning day. The in-laws were the ones insisted they keep the child rather than let him go to daycare. From the message MIL sent, it sounds like her expectation was for the parents to spend every second outside of work spending quality time with their child.

          2. Turanga Leela*

            The daycare vs extended family thing really depends on the specific situation. There are fantastic family members who play with kids, take them to parks, read to them, and talk with them; there are family members who park kids in front of the tv. Similarly, there are wonderful day care places, and there are places where babies are mostly warehoused. It also depends on the length of the day in day care. A five-hour day for a 15-month-old is very different from a ten-hour day.

            I realize from your comment below that you’re drawing from your own experience, which of course is valid. It’s not going to be the case for every child or family.

            1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

              Anoninfl and Turanga Leela, I am going to respond but I’m on my phone at the moment and can’t go into detail the way I’d like, so it’ll be a couple of hours, but I am going to! :-)

          3. PatPat*

            Daycare is more enriching than spending time with family?!?! Grandparents and extended family can provide some of the most incredibly enriching experiences of a child’s life along with love and security. The best daycare on earth is no match for an involved, loving family member sharing their wisdom, attention, and love with a child.

            1. Amtelope*

              Not all family members provide fantastic care. Some daycares do provide fantastic care. Being in the care of extended family isn’t automatically better or worse than being in daycare — it depends on the individual situation, which is hard for strangers on the internet to judge.

            2. Marcela*

              “The best daycare on earth is no match for an involved, loving family member sharing their wisdom, attention, and love with a child.” This is absolutely true, but it is naive at best, and downright evil at worst, to pretend that all family members are involved and loving.

              1. Temperance*

                I think it’s absolutely untrue. I know plenty of people who might love their relatives, but are not enriching their lives. I mean, I grew up around evangelicals, who I would argue spread views that I find toxic.

            3. MashaKasha*

              Most people aren’t in wisdom-sharing mode 24×7. And daycare does have a preschool component to it, where the kids get lessons every day. (Mine even had a teacher one year who taught ballroom dancing.)

        3. Bwooster*

          One of the advantages that adults have over children is that they’re old enough to Use. Their. Words. And the way to communicate the fact that they’re being relied on too much is to say that they’re being relied on too much. That is how adults communicate. Not by projecting their whole deal onto other adults.

          Honestly, reading your post I don’t get the feeling that you hated saying or writing it at all. I hate to say it, but I think you rather enjoyed it.

          1. anoninfl*

            I think this is directed at me, and honestly I have no dog in this fight, obviously. I just tried to look at it from a different point of view and offer what I hoped was constructive advice, since as the poster stated, she and the in-laws have had a great relationship up until now and I don’t understand why everyone else seems to be sure that the mother-in-law was so terribly wrong. I just don’t think it can be as clear cut as the in-laws just flipped a nasty switch all of a sudden. But again, I don’t know any other background and maybe I’m just projecting my own experiences on this.

            I will say though, to your comment that adults are old enough to use their words… the OP states “I pretty much gave her the silent treatment for two days, which is a huge departure from our normal routine of 2-3 phone conversations and numerous texts on a daily basis.” Sounds to me like they could all use some help communicating and maybe taking some space.

              1. ABC123*

                Why would you claim anoninfl is sure the MIL was so terribly right? anoninfl suggested considering that there might be some truth to what the MIL was saying. That’s quite a different thing!

                1. Marcela*

                  Why would you claim the MIL is saying something else what her words mean? She is absolutely not saying what several of you want to hear. Being generous, perhaps that could be her intent, but she is NOT saying what some of you are trying so hard to pretend she is.

          2. Marcela*

            Absolutely. Mil was not saying “we would like to reduce the time you leave grandchild with us”. And surely she has full command of the language to say exactly that, no more, no less.

            On the other hand, I don’t understand why anybody has any voice over whatever time OP wants to spend with the child. For all we know, she has been with the kid 6 months non stop when not workin until Christmas, and really needed those N hours alone. The amount of guilt people try to put into mothers for any possible reason is absurd.

        4. Mirror, Mirror*

          Anoninfl- I agree. I have three kids and we have always been a two income family. It is a tough balancing act, but the OP needs to take a look at the balance -sometimes the truth hurts.

    8. Marzipan*

      Speaking as someone who would dearly like to become a parent, and to whom it would mean a lot… your MIL’s attitude towards parenting is TERRIBLE. I would absolutely agree that a child should be a central priority for its parents, but she’s basically advocating for you dedicating your entire existence to your son and frankly, that sounds unhealthy for both parents and child. You still get to be people, after you’re parents. You still get to experience emotions. You do get to acknowledge that small children are fundamentally pretty irritating, in addition to being awesome and cute and occupying the biggest part of your heart. Trying to suppress those things is not a recipe for being a wonderful parent, it is a recipe for frustration and upset all round, and will only make you feel inadequate against this strange standard.

      Also, she’s absolutely judging you. Putting ‘I’m not judging you’ at the end doesn’t negate that. The standard she’s judging you against is all of her own making and not one I think you need to try to live up to, but yeah, to me it reads as though that was a text from Judgey McJudgerson. At my most charitable, I might interpret it as coming from someone applying a very old-fashioned set of expectations about family roles. I’m picturing her as one of Betty’s friends on Mad Men…

      I tend to be pretty scorched earth about these things, so I would take this… not well. But, with my calmer head on, I’d say that as a minimum, I’d take son to daycare on days he was scheduled to go to daycare whether MIL likes it or not and even if she offers/demands to have him instead, because I’m sure you’ve chosen a setting that’s an enriching and caring environment and really, I don’t buy into her narrative that faaaaaaaaamily is always inherently better when you’ve already made plans for him for the day. And, I’d want Hubby to have a very clear and serious talk with her making it clear that sending hurtful texts to you is entirely unacceptable, and that yes, this was hurtful and not in any way helpful or necessary.

      To be clear, you guys sound like you’re doing an awesome job raising your son and living meaningful lives as part of your community. Go you!

      (FWIW I also don’t really see anything terribly inappropriate about your husband’s choice of words.)

      1. Temperance*

        I 100% agree with everything you’ve said here. It’s kind of pathetic to me that MIL clearly has no identity beyond mother/grandmother, but that’s not LW and I think her son will be all the better for it.

        I clearly have Feelings about this issue, as I desperately was jealous of kids who went to day care/preschool because, frankly, spending every day with my grandparents was incredibly boring for me. I wasn’t learning anything, wasn’t learning to socialize, and IMO, I think I suffered socially for years because I didn’t have those chances. I don’t think spending time with extended family is as important as MIL thinks it is, and seriously, the more people who are in a child’s life, caring for him or her, the better.

    9. Julie*

      “A child is supposed to be your purpose for living” <– I think this is where the root of the problem lies. There might just be some misaligned expectations.

      But first, there's clearly a lot of love going all around, which is a such a good place to start! And it's also normal to go through a phase where people struggle to figure out how to adjust to new dynamics in a relationship (cohabitation, children…). Your case is a bit dramatic but there's openness to communication, which is awesome. Besides, you and your hubby are on the same page, and that's sooo important.

      Second, people express love differently and have different goals for their children. For instance, I love my kid therefore I want him to spend time at daycare where he learns from a curriculum that I alone cannot provide. I love my kid therefore I want him to learn to socialize with other children and be exposed to new things. My mom raised me with the hope that I would always be by her side. I, however, am raising my kid so that he, one day, will have the tools to be okay without me.

      And third, is your child your purpose for living? It's not a trick question but it can get some parents crucified for having the "wrong" answer. In my house, the strength of our marriage is the foundation upon which we build the rest of the family. Hubby and I set aside time to invest in our relationship, sometimes sans kiddo. But then again, my child is not the center of my life–my whole family is.

      It's tough to be a young, working parent, and I'm glad things are slowly getting better with your in-laws. Deep down, they sound like really good people. Thanks for sharing!

      1. MashaKasha*

        Great point! A child should NOT be “your purpose for living, your EVERYTHING”. Honestly, IMO, that’s a recipe to give your kid a dysfunctional childhood and lay the foundation for years of therapy. He’s a human being. It’s not his job to be another person’s EVERYTHING and life purpose!

    10. BePositive*

      It’s okay to think your child is can be a jerk. Mine pretty was the most selfish little guy until he was 3 or 4 years. Loved him to death but oh my goodness he knew how to be the tyrant. It’s how to handle it that also suits you to be that loving parent on the outside even though inside you want to lock him in a box. Daycare is a constructive distraction and me missing my son made me more patient when I saw him as a parent. Today. My son is 7 years and settled down and now I love to keep him home on our off days. The daycare helped teach both me and my son empathy to each other that in the end made me a better parent

      1. iseeshiny*

        Lol yes thank you. “That little asshole wouldn’t go to sleep for two hours” and “That little asshole demanded macaroni and cheese and then wouldn’t touch it” these are things my husband and I say to each other. Never to his face, obviously, that’s verbal abuse and never OK, but to each other? Sometimes a sense of humor gets you through the days.

    11. Temperance*

      Ugh that’s really, really awful. Your MIL comes off as a huge jerk, especially with the Jesus crap thrown in there. I would probably not allow her to spend time alone with your kid, but obviously, YMMV. It’s so gross that she had to judge you so hard and then make it known that she, a good Christian woman, wasn’t “judging”.

      Daycare is probably better for your son than spending time with people like your ILs, who sound frankly overbearing and smothery. Socializing with other kids and learning are really great, and really important things. I can’t imagine talking to my MIL weekly, much less several times per day.

    12. Artemesia*

      You are a better person than I am, I would have been so enraged that I would have probably cut off my nose to spite my face i.e. they would have seen very little of us for the next month maybe indefinitely. This is the kind of message to deliver very gently and not by Email if it is to be delivered. It is always hard to hear criticism of one’s parenting but her approach was tactless and cruel whether any of the criticism is warranted or not. And there is no circumstance where ‘everyone else things y0u are terrible parents’ should be a message delivered by grandparents to parents. NEVER.

      1. New Bee*

        Yeah, “I don’t see the bond between you and him”…them’s fighting words. OP, I’m glad your relationship with them is otherwise very positive, but here’s a red flag of some hidden strings. Often “free” childcare has its own price–hopefully you and your husband can reset appropriate boundaries.

        1. Marzipan*

          ‘No one does! I’ve discussed my negative opinion of you with everyone on the planet, and they all agree with me!’

          I’m not a fan of the ‘I speak with the authority of everyone so what I’m saying isn’t opinion, it’s truth’ approach, because it’s neither true nor possible.

      2. Sally-O*

        I’ve seen a lot of people say that they would have gone “scorched earth” and cut off the in-laws for awhile. I am interested to understand this personality type. I’ve always felt that trying to see others’ perspectives and trying to work out disagreements is the best course. People who are very black-and-white, pro-silent-treatment, with a cut-you-out-of-my-life mentality, kind of terrify me. It’s interesting to see people recognizing this quality in themselves. If you recognize it, why not work to try and change it? Do you view it as a positive attribute? Does it have upsides?

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I don’t think that’s what the scorched earth crowd is saying, and it sets up a straw man argument to characterize their comments in the way that you have.

          MIL said some truly horrific things to Ariel and Husband about who they are as people and as parents—like, relationship-destroying things. Things that are so hurtful that it would make me question whether there’s still a relationship left to salvage (although if MIL does love Ariel and her fam as much as she says she does, hopefully she’ll realize she needs to be much more loving and kind in how she raises and communicates her concerns). She also said those things through a medium that really doesn’t facilitate or support reasoned conversation. Her text doesn’t even present a disagreement that could be discussed. MIL is saying that Ariel & Husband are Bad Parents, and that the only way to “fix” that is by giving over their entire lives to their child and changing who they are as people.

          So this isn’t an “agree with me or I will cut you!” scenario; it’s a “can we bounce back from the firebomb you droppped on our relationship?” scenario. And honestly, that’s not something any of us can answer for Ariel, nor should we. Instead, some folks are saying is no, they would not be willing/able to overlook, in the short term, a comment that they perceive to be fundamentally hurtful, judgmental, and betraying.

          (Aside: And frankly, when you’re enraged, the silent treatment is a much better option than saying something you’ll regret once you’ve had a chance to cool down.)

          1. New Bee*

            You always write the most insightful comments. I’d add that depending on the issue, low/no-contact might make sense if you’re worried the in-laws will undermine your choices when alone with the kid. I’m not saying this is the case with the MIL, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that she could be saying things to or in front of the child that imply his parents aren’t bonded to him.

        2. Temperance*

          I don’t see how it’s so terrifying, at all.

          I think a lot of people who came from loving families, and who married into loving families, see resolutions to every conflict. They only see the best in people. And that’s great if you have a charmed life.

          It’s not reality for many of us, though. Some people are incredibly unreasonable, and the only solution is to put space between you and them. For instance, my mother is borderline, and abused and neglected me throughout my childhood. She can’t behave herself. She spreads lies and rumors if she doesn’t feel adequately loved, so I had to cut her own since her negativity and toxicity were bringing me down. She wouldn’t be allowed near a child if I had one because she can’t be trusted. (My sister, who does have kids, made the same choice, and our mother is only allowed near her kids under extremely limited circumstances.)

    13. AMT*

      I think you’d like It’s a subreddit for crazy stories about your mother-in-law. You’d be in good company — passive-aggressive texts are their bread and butter!

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        Thanks, I’ll have to check that out! I’ve never read much on reddit because I don’t understand how it works, but I might have to brave the site for good MIL stories.

        1. Nisie*

          Also check out all in the family and dwil on babycenter. You’d get practical advice on how to deal with the mil

        2. TheSockMonkey*

          Babycenter’s website has sub groups where you can ask for advice about in laws. The site is definitely not just for parents of babies.

    14. Tabby Baltimore*

      Actually, your MIL’s text just made me laugh. I don’t know if re-framing this kind of “input” from her will help, but I’ll offer it FWIW: She is a woman of her time. Every time my MIL (whom I love and think the world of, BTW) came out with some remark that sounded disapproving (and, believe me, I was the daughter-in-law who pushed the envelope on “appropriate” a fair amount), I chalked it up to the fact that she was constitutionally incapable of seeing the situation from any point of view other than her own. My husband was always in my corner, so I never stressed about it.

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        I have to say, my MIL has been pretty awesome, with the exception of this incident, but I’m fortunate that my husband is very supportive. It definitely makes things easier to have his support!

    15. chickabiddy*

      I was a SAHM when my daughter was little and I am not close to family, geographically or otherwise, so this is coming from a very different place, but I always felt that routine was important, especially at the toddler age. So I would actually think that taking your son to daycare as you usually did would be a *good* and comfortable thing for him.

    16. Marissa L*

      I agree with your MIL that a young toddler of that age should not be going to daycare if a parent is home and not sick and has no pressing issue. I’m a professional mom of three who practices medicine and when in training or work if I had time off I never sent babies to daycare. They want to be home with their parents. When they are four or five it’s ok but imo not with a child who is practically an infant. I’d be happy to have such an invested MIL and I think you should really reflect on her words without defensiveness because deep down some of it may be true. It seems she’s been holding this in. Happy New Year. Your baby will grow up quickly in front of your eyes and you will never regret spending time with him. Quit the opposite.

      1. Mirror, Mirror*

        I agree – the LW says the MIL is “generally awesome” so maybe maybe her words are something to give some thought. The message could have been delivered differently perhaps, but it sounds like they come from a place of long-considered concern.

      2. Amtelope*

        It is possible that this kid wanted to be home with his parents; it’s possible that he wanted to get back to a familiar routine and see caregivers that he missed after the disruption of the holidays; it’s possible that regardless of what he wanted, his parents needed a fifteen-month-old to do something that wouldn’t have been his first choice for the day. And that’s okay. Parents can have needs — or even wants — that are not about spending every moment with their children.

    17. ghn*

      I feel that this parent-shaming is really wrong, and slightly creepy. I also dislike the way your MIL puts down daycare. (Note that I live in Scandinavia, where it’s unusual for children to NOT go to daycare, and that I have actually worked in a small daycare center, and was very focused on the children having a good experiece. )

      Basically, her message is that you need to stop having a career, and instead become a SAHM and take care of her son and grandson in the way she wants you to, and s***w yours and your family’s needs! Deeply inappropriate!

      1. AnonEMoose*

        +1000. Inappropriate, judgmental, and shaming. MIL may not realize that times have fundamentally changed – not that many people can manage on one income anymore. My husband and I can’t – and we don’t have kids to consider.

        1. Trillian*

          Historically and across societies, women haven’t spent most of their time and energy on child-care: most of them worked, and child-care was shared. It’s just that a peculiar little bubble of wealth and privilege that is the Western middle-class nuclear family has become entrenched as normal, even though it’s only been around for a very short time.

      2. MashaKasha*

        Right? I grew up in Eastern Europe. I did not know anyone growing up who did not go to daycare. Never knew anyone whose mother did not work outside the home, outside of the maternity leave (which admittedly was longer than the ridiculous 6-12 weeks mothers get in the US.) Just because the MIL has never seen this arrangement before in her life, doesn’t mean it’s a sign of the end times.

    18. Marcela*

      I am truly amazed a the number of people trying hard to pretend that your MIL’s word do not mean what they seem. My mom would do the same thing, tell me horrible things and then claim that I did not understand the fully different message, obviously coming from a place of love, what else?! I mean, seriously, how can anybody read “I don’t see the bond between him and the two of you. No one sees it.” as a loving message? She is perfectly allowed to disagree on any choice you do, given she keeps her mouth shut. But suggesting there is no love between you because you do not give up your life to your child?! And the comments suggesting “there could be some truth” in this crap? I see red.

      1. New Bee*

        Yeah, it’s telling there wasn’t any “evidence” of the child being deprived of his parents (e.g., “he didn’t sleep well and cried about missing you”) or even an offer of help, a la “why don’t we come over and clean your bathroom/take down your tree and you can go out to lunch with Kid?” As close as she is, the MIL surely can’t know all the ins and outs of the OP’s to-do list, child’s temperament, work schedule, etc., and the idea that we strangers on the Internet could (with room to chastise OP) is frankly absurd. Then again, I avoid telling people what to do unless the advice is solicited or I’m willing to give some of my time to help, and I’m planning a night away from my kid next month for the sole purpose of getting a break so I’m at the top of the Bad Mom List (TM).

      2. Temperance*

        I think a lot of people who grew up in healthy, normal families always see the best in people. My mother does the same thing. She’ll say mean, cutting remarks like the above, and walks it back when you respond.

    19. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

      Hi all,

      So rather than try to comment on each subthread, I decided to do a kind of mass response. I definitely was just thinking of this as one of those WTF moments and wanted to share, and didn’t really anticipate this big of a discussion, not that I mind. :-) In light of the spirited discussion I generated, I wanted to share some additional context.

      Firstly, our family setup… In a traditional nuclear family, you’d have Child(ren), 2 Parents, and 4 Grandparents. Both my husband’s and I’s biological parents divorced in our respective youths and all 4 have remarried. Thusly, we have 1 Child, 2 Parents, and 8 Grandparents. Of the 8, we are estranged from one couple (my bio father and his spouse). We are on good terms with my husband’s bio mother and her spouse, but she is not so maternally inclined, so I’m being generous to say they’ve seen our son twice a month since he was born. The longest consecutive visit with them was 4 hours. My bio mother and stepdad are pretty close to us, but my stepdad works on call and my mom runs their small business, so they see Son once every 2-3 weeks or so. That brings us to my husband’s bio dad and his stepmom, who is the MIL that sent the text. They have been together since my husband and I met 6 years ago, and have actually only been married 2 weeks to the day longer than Hubby and me. Because Hubby is so much like his father, MIL and I have gotten progressively closer as we’ve commiserated about bad behaviors they both share, stupid things they’ve said, etc. Our relationship has only deepened since I gave birth; she’s the one I’ve turned to the most for support/guidance/advice, even more than my own mother. They keep our son pretty frequently, but I’ve routinely encouraged them to let me know if they’re overwhelmed and need a break, and they’ve often commented how grateful they are to spend so much time with him. They’re also quick to remind me that he is OUR son and we should never feel bad if we want/need to keep him home when they’ve asked to keep him. So, by all appearances, everything is peachy keen.

      I want to state here very explicitly that I thought the issue was simply that she was upset that we wanted to take Son to daycare. I didn’t find out until the “clearing the air” talk that my husband had made the comment (which I’ve already stated has been addressed with him whether it was valid or not), but apparently the comment was just the spark that set the fire. Apparently, she’s been told by a friend/coworker/family member/psychic/someone on multiple occasions that she and FIL spend too much time with our son and have taken on too much of the burden of parenting from us, and for whatever reason, chose to take that to heart rather than address it with me. So when Hubby made his remark, she stewed and stewed and the next day when I texted her, she blew up.

      My initial reaction was shock, and then I was very, VERY tempted to do as some commented and not let them keep him AT ALL any more, but I contemplated doing it a little more passive aggressively, like just keeping him home and not saying anything, rather than say “well since you feel that way, you won’t be seeing him so much”. However, I know that kind of response would only hurt our son. Both Hubby and I had extensive time with our grandparents, and those relationships are something I will treasure until my dying breath, and I want my son to experience that same depth of relationship with his grands.

      So, here’s what I said to her, and what I’ll say to you all in response to the text: it’s nobody’s business but mine and my husband’s what kind of bond we have with our son. I feel that our job as his parents are to love him unconditionally and provide a clean, safe, healthy environment in which he can live, ample food and water to fuel his growth, and appropriate preventative and acute medical care. If someone thinks that I feel my son is an inconvenience, that’s their problem, because I absolutely DON’T feel that way, and neither does my husband. I was especially shocked to think that my MIL had such a low opinion of me, because she of all people was in the best position to witness exactly how strong our bond is with our son.

      She did express some concerns that she and my FIL had about Hubby, which were justified, but we talked through those and she did clarify that she knows we are good parents, and that perhaps her delivery was ineffective. She also told me that she wanted us to be more open in our communication, to which I replied pretty bluntly that I thought we already had that type of relationship. So, in short, we’re just working to get past that weird awkwardness that comes after a fight.

      Thanks for all the thoughtful and mostly positive responses. As I said before, this was just one of those moments that makes you stop and go, “WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FFFFFFFFFF”, and I wanted to share that with the AAM family just to get some anonymous thoughts. My husband felt much the same way that I did, and I shared the situation with my best friend, but this isn’t the kind of family drama I’d share with coworkers or other family members, which is why I thought to share with AAM.

      Happy New Year to all!

    20. C Average*

      I’ve really enjoyed following the back-and-forth on this one, despite having little to add from a firsthand experience. (My stepkids were well past the toddler stage when I entered their life, and their grandparents all live some distance away.)

      One thing that hasn’t been brought up here, at least not that I’ve seen, is the way that daycare functions as a sort of playdate on demand. Kids generally like to play with other kids, but facilitating playdates is a notorious headache. (Finding the right kid, finding a gap in everyone’s schedule, figuring out how to supervise the playdate without being hover-y, deciding whether the moms hang out together while the kids play or not, keeping track of everyone’s food allergies, cleaning up afterward . . . playdates are freaking EXHAUSTING, and daycare can serve the exact same function for kids. When they’re absorbed with playing with each other, they don’t notice whether Mom or Grandma is there looking on.

      My sister and I both had the amazing good fortune to spend our very early years in small, safe, close-knit, walkable neighborhoods populated by SAHMs and kids of all ages, and we always had a pretty long leash and a lot of options for more or less making our own playdates by saying, “Can I walk over to Sarah’s house?” (“Sure. Ask her mom if it’s okay if you play there. Sarah can come back here, too, if that works better.”) This began happening as soon as we were able to walk; I vividly remember my sister and her little friend Dustin toddling up the sidewalk from our house to his.

      If my stepkids hadn’t gone to a nearby daycare, I think they would have literally never met any other kids until they went to school. Neighborhoods like my old one just don’t appear to exist anymore, for a lot of reasons, and I think for really young kids, daycare is probably their best opportunity to meet other kids, select friends, and enjoy relatively unstructured play.

      I also think it’s really crappy to blame a parent of a young kid for doing a variation of what parents have always done. Do I think my mother probably breathed a sigh of relief when I disappeared for the better part of the afternoon to play with Sarah? Yes. Do I think Sarah’s mom was probably overjoyed when the two of us announced we would play in the yard instead of in the house? Yep. When there were more opportunities to get your kids out from underfoot by having them play outside with other kids, parents definitely used those opportunities, and without apology. That’s a gap that daycare is filling now.

  2. Mimmy*

    I love those….not sure what you call them….figures from your husband for this week’s picture!

    While 2016 was pretty solid for me, I’m happy to see it go. Bring it on 2017, Mimmy is ready for whatever you got!!

    Wishing everyone safe celebrations tonight and a wonderful year ahead.

    1. Windchime*

      I love the little paper doll family, too! How cute! Happy New Year to Alison and Mr AAM, plus Lucy, Sam, Olive and Eve.

          1. JessaB*

            Yeh the Today show would certainly give her more than enough work to do especially if she’s a one person shop. Very neat though. Now she’s mentioned on a nationally noticed blog.

          1. Mimmy*

            They have been playing one season a day of GoT this week, and my husband has been binge watching all week even though he’s seen them all before. I think hubby would like you two :)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Ditto here.

      Do you have a winter time project? I need to make space but this winter I want to take down my french doors and paint them properly. I think this is going to mean days of stripping off the old paint. Am looking forward to seeing that done.

    2. printrovert*

      May not be great for homeowners but if you rent, chances are you are getting a better deal than you would in the warmer months.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, I moved in to my place in early January. Rent was slightly below comps. I flat out asked the property manager what the problem with this place was. (It wasn’t unusually low, but low enough where I was curious.) She said nothing, other than winter time tends to be a slow time to fill places so there’s some seasonal adjustments. Sure enough, rents in the summer are $200-$300/mo more expensive.

        Apparently there really wasn’t much wrong with this place, because my 9th year here starts next month.

        1. Gala apple*

          Has the lower rent maintained itself through the years (with renewals and such)? Sweet find in NOVA if I remember correctly!

          1. Dan*

            Well, I’m up to market rate, but my lease still renews in January, but the winter rates are still significantly cheaper than the summer rates.

    3. Mimmy*

      Ugh I’m with you there. When my husband and I moved from a condo to a townhouse back in 2000, he goofed and accidentally got our heat (and maybe electricity too? I forget) shut off a day too soon. Yeeeeeah not fun when it’s December and chilly outside! :/

    4. Yetanotherjennifer*

      We can’t seem to avoid it. Both our cross country moves were in January. On the plus side it’s easy to figure out how long you’ve lived in a place.

  3. AcidMeFlux*

    I discovered AMA less than a year ago. I just want to say that 2016 has been just about the worst year of my life, so it’s sooooooo nice to pop in here (especially on a Saturday afternoon.) High common sense to virtually zero crazy ratio. It’s a comfort. Thanks, Alison, thanks, all.

    1. Green Tea Pot*

      Same here! I’m relatively new, too, having found this page about a year or so ago. Wish I’d found it 40 years ago! Lol

    2. Dan*

      The nice thing with really bad years is that things pretty much have nowhere to go but up. 2013 was my lousy year — I separated from my ex in the summer, and 4 months later got laid off. Other than the debt I had to deal with from that period (which is quite manageable, albeit significant) everything else is way better.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Welllll…I don’t know about zero crazy, but the crazy here is pretty much always fun, rather than disconcerting! ;D

    4. JessaB*

      Alison is so good at moderating the nastiness, so it’s always great to be here because she’s good at it.

    5. Jessi*

      I too have had a rough, wildly unsettled and financially bad 2016. I am looking forwards to being much more settled this year

  4. Cath in Canada*

    Any tips for getting back into playing a musical instrument after a long gap?

    My NYR for 2017 is to get back into playing classical guitar. I’ve bought some new strings and some oil to condition the fret board and will get stuck in tomorrow. But I’m feeling mad at myself for having not practiced for so long (I got out of the habit while living in a very small apartment with terrible soundproofing, and never picked it up again when we moved even though that was 10 years ago). I know that the longer I leave it the more I’m going to suck, which will make me feel more disappointed in myself because I used to be pretty good. So I guess I’m really looking for advice on getting over that hump! I was planning to build up my skills by playing music from the progressively more difficult books I learned from – but would it maybe help to buy all-new music? Things like that :)

    1. Nella*

      Try a bit of both. I have taken long breaks from the piano and I find new music is fun to learn and the stuff that I like keeps me coming back to the piano.

      Right now I am pianoless as the only way it would fit into our house is if we move it from the porch and the porch stairs need fixing before the weight of a piano and movers go on it.

      1. Anansi*

        I had the same problem, and ended up buying a digital piano. They are pretty lightweight (mine is about 70 pounds) and you can choose what kind of stand/case you want. I got a Yamaha with the graded hammer keys about 5 years ago, but I may get a new one soon because the technology and affordability have come a long way just in that time.

    2. The Moops*

      Not a classical guitar player, but I have taught other instruments.
      My tips:
      #1: Daily practice time in short bursts (not more than 20 minutes) is better than lots of practice on the weekends. Even if you only did 10 minutes a day, you’ll make progress.
      #2: Break everything into super small bits. For example, if you’re practicing scales, play the first 3 notes. Then up to note 4, and so on. I like to tell my students that one can’t swallow a whole pizza at once.
      #3: Right now, you’ve forgotten to play. One month from now you will either be the person who still isn’t playing guitar or the person who has one month of experience relearning. Don’t beat yourself up about the past 10 years.

      Good luck and have fun!

    3. Raia*

      Its easy to feel guilty about not playing, but that means you actually do want to play! I’d just pick it up and start, maybe with a song you’ve played before and really loved or an easier one you’ve always wanted to learn. Music is all about fun anyways. Whenever your mind starts comparing to how you were at your peak, a simple reminder that your goal is to get back to that place, you are having fun, you are better right now than when you weren’t playing those 10+ years, etc. does wonders.

      My goals for 2017 are also to pick up the piano and other instruments again, so I will be right on that journey with you. I live with my folks and refuse to play in front of them because “that sounded great” when I just screwed up a C major scale absolutely grinds my gears. If I could only find a space to practice, I’d be set. Have good notes!

    4. Rahera*

      It’s great that you’re starting again. My number one tip is accept that the sound won’t meet your standards for a little while until you get back into practice, and sometimes if it gets too much to bear and you’re really frustrated, sing along. :) I’m not wanting to be facetious or disrespectful, this really helps me with instrument practice. I find it makes me laugh, I give myself permission to stop expecting to be perfect for a minute, and the next thing I play is usually a bit better because I’m not as tense. :)

    5. TheLazyB*

      Oh wow I’ve not played piano in like 20 years and got a keyboard for Christmas from my hubby :) I’ve accepted I’ll need to start back at the beginning and am doing scales and everything ;)

    6. Stephanie*

      Hey, this was me with the cello a few months ago! I picked it back up after 8 years of not playing.

      I’d do both–it can be fun to learn some new music, but playing stuff you’ve already played will help you get some muscle memory back.

      I’d second those who say it’s better to do more frequent, short practices. I found when I picked the cello back up, my back muscles couldn’t do the longer practice sessions or rehearsals I used to be able to do. The first orchestra rehearsal I had, I was sore after like an hour of rehearsal.

      It’ll also help if you have a goal–if there’s a performance opportunity that can give you goal to work toward.

    7. AnonymousAndroid*

      With a string instrument, definitely build up playing time. Strings and soft finger pads are not a good combination.

      (Voice of experience here. I went straight into a 3 hour orchestra rehearsal after not touching a cello for about 5 years. My fingers were literally blistered afterwards.)

      Also, be kind to yourself when you can’t play all the stuff you could before. Start with something easier but fun to get back into the swing of things.

      1. Stephanie*

        Omg. I had the same experience. I also replaced my strings (as the old ones were from when Bush was in office) and I forgot how rough it can be to break in new strings.

    8. Anansi*

      One thing that really helped me was starting with the latest pieces I learned and working my way backwards. I first started out playing the earliest pieces I learned and was really frustrated that I couldn’t play them immediately, but starting with the pieces I learned last/remembered the best helped me regain a lot of the muscle memory and made learning new pieces and older pieces a lot easier.

    9. Cath in Canada*

      Thanks again everyone! You have collectively inspired me to order some new music books. Specifically, the Trinity College exam books for grades 1-5. I got my grade 6 while I was in high school and was working towards grade 7 when studying for the final exams started to seem more important, and I still have all the old books (they update them with new pieces every few years). So I can start by going back and forth between the old and new version of the grade 1 book and (hopefully) onwards and upwards through the grades! I will be happy to get back to around a grade 3 or 4 level.

    10. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Pick up some new stuff but keep going with the old familiar material too. And definitely play in smaller batches. I found the endurance in my hands needed to be rebuilt slowly. Then again I suffer from tendonitis so that complicates things. Used to play classical organ, now I have a Casio keyboard. So my repertoire has changed to more simple material, classic rock/country and more piano type arrangements.

    11. Ruth (UK)*

      I have a similar experience with re-taking up an instrument – I played violin (learned classically with lessons) from the ages of about 6 until I was 14. I never enjoyed it that much and that’s probably why my playing ability was a bit below what might be expected for the amount of time I’d been playing. I didn’t touch it again until I was about 22 (5 years ago). I now practice a few times a week and play in folk sessions and other similar situations, but don’t take lessons.

      My biggest tips:
      Try if you can to forget about comparing yourself to how you played before. Only compare your progress now – from when you start again as your new beginning point. This is probably the biggest one, and it’s hard. But you can’t expect to be at the same level after such a gap – but you’ll pick it up again a second time faster than you learned it the first time round!

      Remember some days it will seem to be going well but some days it will feel like everything sounds bad, or sloppy, etc. It doesn’t mean you’re getting worse / not improving – it’s just people have good and bad days.

      Practice when you feel like it, and stop when you’re no longer enjoying it! I keep my violin case closed but unzipped at home. I know it’s a tiny thing but just that tiny bit less extra effort in getting out (not having to unzip the case) makes me way more likely to decide to have a quick practice. It’s ok to pick it up just for 1 or 2 quick tunes, then stop.

      Record yourself and listen back. It’s different than just hearing yourself as you play and can help you hear what you might want to try to change about the sound or how you’re playing etc.

      For me of course I changed styles completely. I play absolutely none of the same music I played when I was taking lessons as a kid/teen. I think that helped me. It sort of felt more like a new/different thing – the folk music and fiddle playing I enjoy now, as opposed to the violin practice that always felt like a boring (but not hateful) chore before. You mention buying all-new music. For me, that was what I wanted, but it would be not the same for everyone. Maybe try playing some old tunes you knew and see how you feel – and try out some new ones too, of the level you want. Don’t be afraid to enjoy playing ‘easier’ music than what you are able to play. Just cause a tune is ‘easy’ to play doesn’t mean it’s not fun to play and to listen to.

      And of course it helps to find other people with the same interest especially who might want to play together!

      Good luck!

    12. Bonky*

      I took a REALLY long break (20 years) from the piano. I wasn’t living in places where it’d be possible to play without disturbing the neighbours, and I’m shy about being overheard.

      I dropped an obscene sum of money on a really wonderful baby grand at the end of 2014, and since then I’ve managed to get back to where I was before (a very good Grade VIII – and I’ve found to my great joy that my sight reading has improved immensely with age!)

      I bought a lot of new music – most of mine had disappeared over the years. I started with some easier Bach and some easy/intermediate collections of short pieces, which I only needed for a few weeks; it comes back surprisingly quickly. I was consistent about doing an hour’s practice (which is no hardship; I love playing) a night for the first six months, and got back to where I had been. I’m now playing stuff that is harder than what I was playing when I was 20; and I’m playing it better, too. Age brings new approaches to things which can be really helpful.

      I did have a bit of a bump late in 2015 when I lost a baby and had to have an associated operation. I became very depressed and couldn’t bring myself to play. But I got better, started up again and haven’t suffered any ill-effects; I’m back to normal now (and expecting again!)

    13. tink*

      I actually just got back into playing my instrument, and what I do is a combination of working on basics (scales and jumps in various rhythmic patterns), older/easier material (so I don’t get discouraged), and newer/more difficult material (to actually challenge and push me). Some new music might help, but it might just end up frustrating you instead.

  5. let the bon-bons roll*

    I’m seeking new ideas for when to listen to podcasts.

    There are so many amazing and cool podcasts out there, but I find I have to be doing something rather mindless in order to listen to them. I listen when I drive (but my commute is only 10 minutes, and I don’t do a lot of long distance driving) and when I do my weekly whole-house cleaning (but that’s about 2 hours total). I’ve tried listening when I’m on the treadmill, but I guess I need some verbal interest, because my mind wanders. I teach, so I can’t listen at work.

    When do y’all listen?

    1. Katniss*

      Dang, I wish I had good suggestions here! I listen at work because I’m lucky enough to be able to, and I have a 45 minute train commute each day daily. It allows me to listen to the 60 podcasts I have in my feed with regularity.

      The shower, maybe? But that might have the same problem as the treadmill.

    2. FDCA In Canada*

      Besides driving and housecleaning, I listen while I cook or do things with my hands. In the winter I love doing jigsaw puzzles, and nothing goes so well with jigsaw puzzles as a really good podcast! Other things like knitting or sewing will work for me, too, because I don’t need to focus on what I’m doing with my hands.

      1. CAA*

        I’m the same. Whenever I’m cooking or doing some other kind of handwork I have a podcast on. I don’t really listen to music, so this is my background noise.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Same here. I listen when I’m cooking (if it’s a complicated or new recipe sometimes I have to pause the podcast while I’m reading the instructions) or sewing. I can usually manage to watch tv while I knit because I can look up and down, but sewing is definitely not something where I can watch tv so podcasts are perfect. My husband listens while doing the dishes. Jigsaw puzzles and podcasts sound like a perfect combo too, especially with a nice cup of tea!

    3. Cath in Canada*

      I listen during breakfast, on the bus, while doing chores, and any time I’m walking around outside. I can listen to some podcasts while doing sudokus or other similar non-word-based puzzles, but only if it’s not a difficult puzzle and the podcast doesn’t require my full attention. So I can listen to a science documentary that way, but not a complicated audio drama with multiple threads to follow.

    4. Charlie Q*

      I listen in the shower! It’s not a lot of time, but it’s a small chunk of my day where I’m physically busy but it’s pretty much muscle memory, so I can focus on the podcast.

      Sometimes, I listen to podcasts while I color in a coloring book, too. Coloring is soothing and fun — while still simple, as opposed to actively making original art — but it’s enough physical motion that I don’t get bored.

    5. Marillenbaum*

      I listen to mine while getting ready for work in the mornings, and when getting ready for bed at night–since that involves making lunch, laying out clothes, etc. it takes some time. I do also listen during my commute home, but it takes me about an hour on public transit.

    6. Turanga Leela*

      I listen when I cook, and occasionally at night if I have free time (in lieu of reading or watching TV).

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I used to listen to old-time radio shows (mysteries, etc.) while doing yard work. I don’t do my yard work anymore, but that was a good time to listen because it took my mind off how much I hated it. Of course not when mowing because you can’t hear anything then.

      Also, how do you get your house cleaned in two hours!? Mine is legit tiny and it takes all day!

      1. Let the bob-bons roll*

        I probably have lowers standards for cleaning? Lol. Mr. Bon-bons is in charge of laundry and is pretty tidy during the week, so it’s mostly dusting and vacuuming.

    8. Becky*

      I’m into crafts and have been doing a lot of crafty gifts this year so when I’m knitting/crocheting/cross-stitching I listen to stuff–I’m more into audio books than podcasts, but I have a few podcasts I like to listen to. My job sometimes permits me to listen–depends on the task, if it is something I can do without much thought I can listen to book/podcast, but if it requires more focus I have to switch to music or I lose the thread of plot/conversation.

    9. Rahera*

      Knitting, spinning, and cooking. Any sort of slow sewing jobs are also good. I like the way I then associate whatever I’m sewing with what I was listening to at the time. :)

    10. Lady Julian*

      I like to tidy my house at the end of each day, putting stuff away and clearing up dishes. I listen then. I don’t usually get through a whole podcast at once; I listen in snatches from day to day.

      I also listen on walks: in the summer, outside; and during the winter, in the mall. :)

  6. crudruqa*

    For almost two months now, I’ve taken a break from social media as well as from the news. From other comments I’ve read here, I’m not alone. Just curious, of those who are on break as well, how long do you anticipate your break will last? For me, I’m honestly not sure. I’m enjoying it which was unexpected.

    1. JHS*

      I deactivated Facebook and I’ve not once wanted to go back! Well, maybe once when I was bored when my husband was working and my baby was asleep. I didn’t go back though and I’m so glad that I didn’t.

    2. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      I’ve been doing the ostrich/groundhog routine on and off since, ahem, early November. As soon as I attain information saturation (aka the early stages of fury or despair) I pop my head back down into “la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you” land. For variety I scan the newspaper while holding my hands over my eyes. This is a nice substitute for watching horror movies. Also takes less time.

      I have never been so grateful for the radio’s OFF button and the paper-recycling wicker basket in our living room. The new regime has also cured my bad habit of scattering newspaper sections everywhere.

      tl; dr: Me too; I’m enjoying it also; and I expect to continue this selective news consumption for at least the next four years. I’m still an informed citizen, just not wallowing in endless repetition from a million different sources.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        That’s an excellent point. I’m a graduate student in international studies, and the boyfriend is studying American Government for his PhD. I’ve been very firmly in the “I don’t need this ish” realm, where I limit my news consumption to some reading from WaPo, while he’s more of a hate-watcher/trainwreck type. The State of the Union is going to be a disaster, because he keeps saying “It will be fun!” and I’m saying “No, I will be miserable and I’m going to the movies alone.” Still figuring out how long I’ll be dating him.

        1. Sibley*

          Sounds like you and he should have a discussion around this topic. It’s not unreasonable to not want to discuss or enjoy politics. Recommend Captain Awkward if you need some scripts to get started.

        2. tink*

          My partner and I are like this (he needs to know/hash out EVERYTHING endlessly, I need to not be so overwhelmed that I devolve into total apathy/despair), and having a very blunt, honest discussion about that has helped a bit. If he passes my information threshold I say “I do care about this, but I don’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with this and [immediate thing pertaining to us, even if fairly trivial], so I need you to talk to someone else about it.” He still gets huffy about it sometimes, but I stick firm to “We’re both upset about the current state of politics and the world, but I’ve reached my limit today and all continuing this conversation will do is increase my anxiety, so please talk to someone else about it.”

    3. Junior Dev*

      I got kicked off of Facebook last year for violating the real name policy, and instead of changing my name or trying to convince them my pseudonym was my legal name I just quit. I had an alternate account with my legal name that I used for social media related jobs, but it was always a work account. I’ve logged into it a couple times in the past year and just been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that’s thrown at me, so I log back out as soon as i do what I’m there for.

      I know that’s not quite what you’re asking about but the kinds of news that get shared on social media are definitely one kind of information that’s overwhelming. I do listen to NPR on my commute–I know they have a reputation for liberal bias but I find they usually have thoughtful and thorough consideration of a variety of issues, whereas many news sources harp constantly on the same thing over and over.

      I think it’s the repetition that bothers me. I used to read Slate but realized that 90% of their articles are now “yet another reason Trump is terrible” and the other 10% are “needlessly contrarian take on some pop culture phenomenon” and regardless of whether you agree with either of those ideas they aren’t providing any new information, just filtering it through another set of opinions. I think this constant regurgitation of the same basic info is driven by what gets likes and shares on Facebook, and it dumbs everything down and contributes to a worse public discourse.

      So like, I’m not so much on a news break as I am trying to change my relationship with the news and improve how I consume information. Once I get paid at my new job I want to subscribe to some newspapers and news magazines, ones that still do their own journalism.

      I am still on social media break, because I think my quality of life would suffer if I started using Facebook again– although it also sucks that it’s become harder to make friends now that I’m not on many people’s preferred mode of communication, and it means I can’t use apps like Tinder or Bumble that require Facebook to login. I am really on the fence as to whether I will do something to change that at some point, but have no immediate plans to start again.

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      I got rid of certain social media sites awhile ago. The ones I use now are carefully cultivated to non-political/real world issues. So, for instagram, it’s mostly dog and food photos and friends who post travel/food/etc. pics.

      I keep my twitter strictly to fandom and online friends who aren’t 100% social justice bloggers and just want to yell with me about the latest Star Wars movie or whatever new thing we’re into at the moment. Twitter is easier, but tumblr just means I have to figure out who is going to start drama and who just wants to post pretty gifsets and enjoy the platform instead of arguing about every tiny detail.

      I read the Google News headlines and some articles every morning, but that’s the extent of it. I keep myself informed, but my issue is more how people spin the news out of control to suit their purposes. I just want objective reporting. I’m also tired of people saying, “well I believe X, so if you don’t believe what I believe 100%, you’re wrong and against me” because that just makes things worse and no one is every going to agree with someone else 100%. I gave up on watching the news because it’s either right leaning or left leaning. The only news I constantly seek out is good, investigative journalism that at least tries to be unbiased. I appreciate that.

      I’ve been off facebook for almost 5 years (though a very bare bones profile is up there for dating apps) and I don’t follow any news sites or people who are prone to only ranting about political or social issues. I use the internet for escape and I really don’t miss the political aspect of it.

    5. Kay*

      I’m on sort of a partial break. I took FB off my phone and tablet, and only check it on a computer, which realistically means only at work, which means only once a day or so to catch up on notifications and check in on a few friends.

      I still use Instagram. I check in occasionally on Twitter but I had always structured it more as a professional tool than a personal social network, so I find that refreshing rather than draining, and it’s easy to dip in for 15 minutes and get bored.

      I hope I don’t ever put Facebook back on my phone. I don’t miss that creeping dread, and I don’t miss being daily reminded of what horrific people some of my family turned out to be.

    6. Mags*

      I deleted Facebook years ago, and will never go back. News… well that’s a bit harder. I don’t want to be ignorant forever but my mental health has improved such an extraordinary amount I’m really torn. I slowly started dipping back in by just reading the headlines in the Google News world & US sections when I feel like I can handle it.

    7. Persephone*

      I’m not on social media at all and never have been. I also haven’t owned a television for about 27 years now. That said, I’m online (of course) but I limit what I see; no news, only a few forums/blogs, none of which have any controversy. It’s not that I’m unsocial though I do love my aloneness, but I am cautious and wary about online media, not having grown up with it.

      I love my choices! I feel so free, so unencumbered by things co-workers talk about and get caught up in. I don’t get depressed by news. I don’t feel helpless in the face of the nastiness and brutality. Instead, I am calm, relaxed, unpressured, and I can focus my free time and the energy (that hasn’t been drained by the terribleness) into making the world a better place. I do things in the evening that please me. I have and make the most of my deliberate choices instead of being pulled this way and that by television and media. I am happy.

      That said, I do not intend any criticism of those who love television and social media, who love being connected in all ways, who are always up-to-date on news events and so on. If it works for them, good! But since you are finding “unexpected'” joy I expect you mike like the change too.

    8. Purple Dragon*

      I gave up TV and mainstream news media prior to the 2013 Australian federal election as it was infuriating. I found that my stress levels decreased, not just because of the election but in general. Now if I go somewhere that has the news on I find it very grating. They speak at a cadence to give the news more immediacy. I didn’t pick up on this until I stopped watching for a while. I’ve not gone back to either watching TV or reading the news.

      For social media I am notoriously bad at keeping up with my facebook account – people do tend to get miffed that they sent me something and I’m completely oblivious. My friends tend to call me instead – which I like better.

    9. Victoria, Please*

      For all y’all who want to stay a bit informed but not get overwhelmed, you might enjoy a publication called “The Week.” It’s a summary roundup of news from all sorts of different sources. Very short pieces. They make a real effort to give the right/left take. Also it has a little section called “It wasn’t all bad” where they give GOOD news.

    10. Clever Name*

      I keep my twitter account devoted to following science stuff, so that is really enjoyable. Facebook, however, is awful. I really only want to see things friends have actually posted themselves. I don’t want to see stuff they’ve liked, but it’s impossible to change that. And the fake news. It’s revolting. We’ve purchased digital subscriptions to WaPo and NYT. I took Facebook off my phone, and I’m going to remove it from my tablet.

      1. Trillian*

        There is a browser extension, “fp purity”, that lets you hide posts with likes and comments, hide newsfeeds and sponsored posts and make a bunch of other customizations. I used it for a while before coming to the conclusion I wanted a browser extension that would hide ME, so I could quietly connect with about twenty people, and follow an equal number of organizations and fan pages, without attracting 50 friend requests from second-hand contacts. Facebook — not designed for lurkers. I miss 2003. Heck, I miss 1996.

    1. Franzia Spritzer*

      The design of that survey page is hard to read with grey on off-white and the very fine font.

      On vegan/halal beauty products: would you consider adding in nail polish to your product watch? KTHXBAI

      1. tink*

        There are a few brands that have halal products (Maya, Inglot, Orly Breathable line) but I’m not sure about the vegan status for any of them.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      Not a vegan, but in case it’s helpful, Urban Decay has at least some products that they indicate are vegan-appropriate.

  7. FDCA In Canada*

    Being both highly superstitious and a big neat freak, I’m embarking on my annual New Year’s Eve Clean today. Laundry, cupboards, baseboards, floors, dusting, and some organization. I’ll do another major-league housecleaning for lunar new year in a month or so, but we’re in the teeth of a snowstorm today so I’ll stay inside with a sick cat and clean like crazy instead.

    What are your NYE/NYD plans? We aren’t drinkers or partiers, so our NYE tradition is to eat fried chicken and watch movies, and tomorrow I’ll make a ham I got on sale on Boxing Day after my choir is giving a chilly outdoor performance. Plus a spare day off Monday!

    1. CAA*

      Sadly, we’re both down with the flu (despite having gotten flu shots), so our plans are to stay home to avoid spreading germs to our friends, and go to bed early. :-(

      I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the other AAM commenters, and Alison herself of course, for another year of thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary on workplace issues, and to wish each and every one of you a happy 2017!

      1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

        +1 to everything CAA said about Allison and the other commenters for the past year’s worth of useful observations and good wishes for 2017.

        Another quiet evening here because we’re dancing with bronchitis. I’m winding down but DH sounds like he’s just winding up. Fortunately our teenager seems completely unaffected.

        P.S. I also enjoy the occasional flashes of comedy. Can’t get through life without a sense of humor!

    2. katamia*

      We don’t have any traditions, and I’ll be working most of the day. It’s not so bad, though–I didn’t work for most of the week, and this work is simple enough that I can watch movies as I go. I’ll probably pop in a horror movie since I’m in that mood.

    3. Overeducated*

      We just paid off the last of our student loans to start 2017 debt free :D :D :D

      Otherwise, dinner with visiting relatives (either homemade pizza or takeout), msybe a beer or two and a board game, possibly bed before midnight.

      1. Raia*

        Congrats! So much congrats! This year was the first year I started paying back and I did 12K. At that rate, I should be where you are in 6 years or less!

        1. Overeducated*

          Wow! We started paying as much as we could about 3 years ago. It wasn’t a huge amount but we were grad students before. Paying it off fast feels awesome, good luck!

    4. Jen RO*

      I am staying home with my boyfriend and watching the HBO premiere at midnight (I don’t know if that’s a thing everywhere). I declined other invitations partly because I was way too lazy to get out of the house, but mostly because my boyfriend didn’t want to socialize and I would feel weird celebrating NYE without him.

      So we cooked a ton and we’re waiting for midnight! 4 more hours left here.

    5. Sparkly Librarian*

      That sounds nice! My house could desperately use cleaning, but I am getting over a cold and a back injury, so I am consciously taking it easy instead. I have a room-by-room, month-by-month declutter plan for 2017. Also, I am keeping an eye on ham sales — usually get one after Xmas and/or New Year’s, and another one after Easter for the freezer.

    6. Cath in Canada*

      We’ll be watching the Canada-USA game in the World Juniors hockey tourney at noon, then this evening we’re going to our friends’ house to hang out, eat good food, play board games etc.

      Getting home on NYE is always such a hassle though! It’s hard enough getting a taxi on a normal night in Vancouver and we don’t have Uber here yet, so we’ll be relying on transit – but there’s snow in the forecast, and our buses don’t do very well on steep snowy hills. We might end up having to stay over and/or walk from the nearest Skytrain station, which would take at least an hour if it’s icy. I’ll be wrapping up warm just in case!

    7. Chilleh*

      Going to a NYE party for the first time in almost ten years. Not expecting anything crazy happening because the group as a whole doesn’t drink much. I’ve been so overwhelmed socially from Christmas that I just hope I can seem engaged, not tired and definitely don’t want to give the impression of being cold or rude.

    8. Marillenbaum*

      My parents are Mormon and don’t drink, so we’ll be doing New Year’s Eve fondue (one cheese, one chocolate) and probably watching movies.

    9. Zip Silver*

      Might be a southern thing, but tomorrow you have to eat black eyed peas for luck in 2017 and cabbage for money in 2017.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        I’ve always heard black eyed peas and collard greens (I’m from eastern NC) but since it represents money I’ve always figured that what ever green you like is the right one.
        My husband’s family’s tradition was pork on New Year’s Day so we’ve combined them and we have ham, kale, black eyed peas and fried cornbread for dinner on New Year’s Day. Which reminds me I need to go shopping.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I am making Hoppin’ John for our brunch tomorrow. Ran out of greens, so celery and carrots will have to do. Black-eyed peas are soaking as we speak!

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’ll be eating black eyed peas and collard greens. Black eyed peas will be from Pioneer Woman’s recipe for dip, which I turn into black eyed peas tacos by frying up some corn tortillas to put the dip in. I just serve the collard greens beside it, and I buy the Glory seasoned canned ones, since I’m the only one in the family who likes any kind of cooked greens.

        1. bunniferous*

          Are the Glory collard greens good? I just committed southern blasphemy and bought some today since I have had no time to put on a pot of collards (tbh I usually just eat them when my mom cooks them. She is seventy-seven and makes enough for me to take home. Hers rock, mine not so much.)

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I like them. They’re nicely seasoned and cooked all the way soft, not like the up-north way of al dente collard greens, lol

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Well, as usual, I didn’t even get dressed today. There is no reason to, nor am I going anywhere tonight, as usual because there is nothing to do and no one to do it with. Tomorrow, as I typically do on Sunday, I will clean the house. I might go to the first day’s showing of Rogue One — most people will be in church tomorrow or hung over. Sunday morning is usually a good time to go to movies here.

      This better be the LAST year for this shit or I. Am. Out.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have no idea what we’ll do tonight. I just worked a shift (my last!) at my retail gig, so right now I’m snuggling on the guest bed with the dog. I have to watch a couple of films for the festival I’m judging. Tomorrow we’re having people over for brunch and potato latkes, so I have to finish some of that prep today– set up the strata and frost the cake. We will probably end up taking an Uber downtown and drinking cocktails.

      Our asshole neighbors told us they’re having a party, so I’ll probably want to be gone, but who knows what we’ll do. They tend to have people over and spend most of their time screaming and smoking outside, so I expect no peace. Oh, well.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        THEY DID NOT HAVE A PARTY. Oh, so blessed. We ended up going out for Italian (restaurant went downhill compared to the last time we went, oh well) then over to a favorite restaurant for a cocktail and our favorite cocktail bar for more cocktails. We had lovely Uber drivers. We got more than a few drinks comped. I am home before 1:30, drinking lots of water and heading to bed soon. My bf is taking the dog out so he won’t bug me at 6:30am for his walk. It is a nice New Year’s Eve.

        When we lived in NYC, we (and I alone, before the bf came along) always spent it at our friend G’s place. This is one of the nights where I miss my peeps the most, but it hits less hard tonight. I’m enjoying the photos they’re sharing from this year’s shindig, and I know they miss my baked goods.

    12. Sydney Bristow*

      My husband and I started a tradition our first NYE together. We both hate going out because it’s never as fun as you hope it will be. So we stay home, just the two of us, get dressed up, eat a fancy dinner, and watch the ball drop on tv. It’s perfect for us!

    13. SeekingBetter*

      I’m staying in tonight and enjoying some Youtube videos, as well as anything else that streams for free on the internets. I’m really craving some ice cream but I think it’s too late to go to a store that’s still open to get some. Tomorrow, I plan to go over to my aunt’s house for dinner so it should be a nice time! Happy New Year to everyone!

    14. TeaLady*

      It has become traditional to go to a quiet gathering at a friends which is basically a refuge for geeks and needs. We mostly eat cheese, chocolate and stollen, drink tea (although alcohol is on offer) and play boardgames or cards. Last night was a particularly hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Prosit Neujahr! (as the Vienna Philharmonic say)

        Well, the New Year has now officially started, since it only begins once I have clapped along to the Radetzky March, and wondered if this will be the year I finally win the draw for a ticket to next year’s New Year’s Day concert.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        We played that last night too, and laughed so hard. The best one I got was a statement saying, “When I’m President, I’ll create a department of _________” with the winning answer of “Shutting the F#@% Up.” Seems pretty fitting.

        The kids all ran around like maniacs while the adults hung out and drank cocktails. We lit fireworks at midnight, and were home in bed by 1:30. It was fun, but I don’t bounce back the way I did when I was in my 20’s. Moving pretty slowly today! Neither my husband nor I are really big drinkers, but once or twice a year we’ll cut loose and tie one on. His turn for 2016 was a crawfish boil, and my turn was last night.

    15. KR*

      For NYE we had to take a surprise road trip to Vegas to reprint our marriage certificate so we got back exhausted, watched the ball drop on the east coast, watched a thunderstorm, and then went to bed. Today is a cleaning day.

    16. tink*

      We had friends over last night for food and card/board games, and today we’re cleaning up after that, making a traditional southern NYD meal (ham, black eyed peas, greens, cornbread) and MAYBE finally seeing Moana.

      Brrr, chilly outdoor performances, but yay choir! I hope it went well. :)

  8. The Other Dawn*

    So does anyone plan on working on any projects in the new year?

    In addition to getting on track with diet and exercise in preparation for surgery in February, I’ve decided to make it a point to cook one recipe from my cook book collection each week. I’ve realized that I have about 20 cook books and I generally don’t use them. I look through them, read them and plan to try some recipes, but I never get to the point of making the recipes. They just sit on a shelf, collecting dust.

    I figure one recipe per week is doable. It’s not super ambitious, but it won’t break the bank in terms of time or money. I’m not going to include my cake or chocolate cook books, since I’m not a dessert-eater anymore, nor should I be. All the others are on the table, though. I’m thinking the biggest challenge will be the baking books, since I’ve tried my hand at making bread and it didn’t go well. But maybe with practice I’ll get better. If not, I’m sure there are other recipes I can try in those books.

    I think this will get me cooking more, which I really need to do, and maybe I’ll discover some good recipes I can use regularly.

    1. Oryx*

      I have the same cookbook goal! I love cookbooks and have so many but always find myself turning to the internet for new recipes.

    2. CAA*

      I got “The Food Lab” for Christmas, so I’m definitely planning to cook lots of Kenji’s recipes. I have not given up sweets, and I will probably end up cooking just as many of the recipes from his colleague, Stella Parks’ though. I love the way she writes and her recipe ideas really capture my attention.

      Other projects on my list are to start volunteering teaching beginning computer science concepts from to kids at our local elementary school, and possibly walking dogs at the animal shelter. (Interestingly, the application for working with dogs is way more onerous than the one for working with kids.)

    3. Overeducated*

      I did that a couple years ago, it was fun. No projects for me this year though, I don’t have the bandwidth.

    4. Girasol*

      I’m learning flat felting – taking a sheep’s fleece and turning it into clothing by wetting and rubbing – and I plan to do more and get good at it. It’s fun but takes a lot of practice and learning as well as a lot of sheep’s fleeces. Now that I finally know where to get bags of wool I’m ready to buckle down and master this.

    5. Chilleh*

      I’m going to revisit working on photography again. My goal is to sell one photo by the end of the year, even if it’s for 25 cents to someone who feels sorry for me. Hopefully not that but in December I won’t be picky I’m sure.

      I love the new recipe a week idea, I’m seriously considering that one now. I’m also planning on walking or biking to work at least once a week. Work is about three miles away and the climate is usually fairly mild so it should be doable.

      1. JessaB*

        Maybe it would be fun to do a thing where you close your eyes and grab a cookbook and make something out of that, that you’ve never done before

        1. The Other Dawn*

          One of the cookbooks I have is one I bought from a used book store by mistake. I thought I was buying the correct one, not realizing there are two books by the same name. It’s pretty entertaining, though–it was written in 1958 and is supposed to be for “gourmets.” It’s quite amusing to read about how to entertain and use the “new, modern” appliances and gadgets. LOL Not sure what I’ll cook out of that book, but you can be sure it won’t be Sardine Fillets in Aspic…

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I bought a cookbook from the forties it fifties at a yard sale, and all the recipes are for wood cookstoves, with adaptations for the “new, modern electric stoves”. One of the recipes begins with soaking a calf’s head in the kitchen sink! :-O

          2. Saturnalia*

            I am positive that I have purchased that exact dish as cat food. I wanna say it’s made by… Applaws? Haha I know I’m not exactly making this sound any more appetizing…

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I said this last year and didn’t do it, but I would like to FINISH a dolls house project. I have several either in stages or that I’ve collected stuff for and didn’t do. To motivate me, I think I’ll work on the Sweeney Todd one because it’s the one I most want to do. I want to make dolls for it (I hate them usually, but in my head, they’re posed a certain way), which I have never done before, but I have plenty of instructional material. If they don’t work out, it will just be the pie shop and Sweeney’s room above it. I’ve pictured it like the Burton film set–I liked that huge window in the upstairs room.

      I’d like to have a bit of the street outside because I have a thing that will make a perfect wrought-iron fence. Yes, it will have lights. I have all kinds of ideas for it, including a working trap door under the barber chair, heh heh.

    7. Colette*

      I think I’m going to try breaking my routine at least once a week – going places I don’t normally go, or trying things I don’t normally try.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I should add that I just bought another cook book this week; however, in my defense, it’s to help me out with the pressure cooker feature of my Instant Pot. It’s The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book and I’ll be using it tonight! I have a feeling this book will get a lot of use.

      1. JessaB*

        I still have to get a pot like that. I do however have a combo convection/microwave oven which OMG the cookbook gets so much use because I am still learning how to make stuff in it. It takes so much less time and all.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I got my pot a few months ago. Up until now, all I’ve cooked is large batches of seasoned brown rice, hard cooked eggs (I can get 24 in there!!), and carrots. Having it for Thanksgiving really saved my butt, as I forgot to cook the fresh carrots. They were done fairly quickly using the pressure cooker function. Tonight I’m using my new pressure cooker cookbook and making shrimp and lentil stew. I want so bad to cheat and call it my one new recipe for the week, but it’s only Saturday. Plus it will make me feel lazy for the rest of the week.

          1. Clumsy Ninja*

            I just got an Instant Pot, too! I made awesome rice in it Friday and then three batches of turkey stock. Now I’m on the lookout for new recipes to try. I have two planned for dinners this week.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              If you’re looking for pressure cooker recipes, I just bought The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book. All the recipes are written for both the stovetop cooker and the electric cooker/Instant Pot. Lots of variety in it. I made the shrimp and lentil stew last night and it was awesome! So easy, too.

    9. Sydney Bristow*

      I have a similar goal, but for baking. I got the Sprinkles Baking Book for Christmas and plan to bake something from it twice a month. I love to bake but tend to focus on the same few recipes over and over. Variety is the goal this year. Red velvet cupcakes are on deck for tomorrow!

    10. PhyllisB*

      That’s a good goal. I probably have over 100 cookbooks but tend to cook from either Better Homes and Gardens (1973 edition) or Bell’s Best. I read my others but don’t use them too much. I think I am going to try to do that myself. But maybe once or twice a month because my husband is now the cook in the family and it’s hard to get him to yield the kitchen. I know, what a tragedy, right? :-)

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I just thought of something to add this year. It’s not a project, but something I should do. I want to get better at remembering birthdays. I have them written on my wall calendar; however, I always seem to forget to send a card. I know, I know. I can post a birthday greeting on social media, but it’s not the same. Gifts have fallen by the wayside, too. It seems as though ever since my mom died in 2008, I just can’t seem to get it together for birthdays anymore. It wasn’t that I needed her to remind me or anything. But for some reason it’s as though everyone in the family decided that birthdays aren’t important anymore. We hardly send cards and gifts sometimes happen and sometimes don’t. None of us expect gifts, but it’s nice when someone thinks of you. So, yeah, I want to send birthday cards this year.

      1. Rebooting*

        If you have trouble remembering, maybe putting the birthdays into your phone with a “remind me a week before” alert could help? That gives you time to get a card in the post.

    12. Kristina L*

      I’ve written and illustrated some picture books for children, and this year, I’m planning to submit them to publishers and hope that eventually, someone wants to publish them.

    13. Annie Mouse*

      I love that idea! Might have to join you in that :) I’m aiming to try and get my house cat proof so I can get a furry companion soon. As I’m a messy individual (which I hate!) it’ll be a bit of a challenge but I’m going to reward good progress with climbing trips and time with a good book!

    14. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Not a project, exactly, but i have deemed this The Year of Getting Everyone the Help They Need.

      My oldest child needs a counselor, and we (well, she; I’m just the driver and insurance provider) have an appointment tomorrow with one who I’m excited about because her specialty is working with LGBTQ and transgender people on issues specific to them. My child isn’t sure whether they are lesbian or transgender or asexual or some combination thereof. This counselor is president of local PFLAG and mother of a transgender son, so I feel like, if anyone can compassionately guide my child as they navigate their sexual and gender identity, she can.

      My sixteen-year-old son needs help with his weight, and I’m going to find something to help him that fits his needs, as far as being effective in a way that isn’t too onerous. I want to find a solution that will give him lifelong positive results. Not sure if that is weight watchers, a personal trainer sensitive to his issues, or what. He is about ninety pounds overweight, and I need to make changes at home to support him, as well.

      For myself, I’m also thinking of seeing a counselor for CBT to help sort through some negative thinking that keeps me stuck and not believing that I can effectively make and maintain positive changes. I want to figure out what I truly want, and what my true obligations are to my self and my immediate family, versus what I think I “should” want and do and need.

  9. Katniss*

    I feel like the AAM community would be a great place to reach out for advice on saying no.

    So I have a new neighbor who has said hi to me a couple of times. For context, this is not a complex where neighbors are buddies with each other: we’ll greet each other in the foyer, but that’s the extent of it. Anyway, after the third time he said hello to me he asked me to add him on Facebook mentioned being in a band. Figuring he’s probably trying to get exposure, I added him. This was foolish. Upon reading his previously friend-locked posts, and upon a few more interactions with him, I don’t get a great vibe off of him. Not necessarily dangerous, but not someone I want to involve myself in personally in any way.

    Now he’s asking me to hang out via Messenger. In almost any other situation I’d just straight up say “nope, not interested”, but this is a neighbor who I don’t necessarily want angry at me.

    Any suggestions on good ways to extricate myself from this?

    (Also, I fully realize that it was foolish to add him on Facebook. I was being too nice. Stupid societal training that I must be nice as a woman)

    1. Episkey*

      More of a passive response, but you can block him from sending you messages on FB even if you do not want to unfriend him. I had to do this with a family member because she kept including me on large FB messages of the most nonsensical stuff that you would find as being totally untrue on Snopes. I got tired of it. If I totally unfriended her, it would cause drama, so I just put a disallow on her sending me messages.

      1. Katniss*

        Definitely a good idea! I wish Facebook allowed you to sign off of Messenger completely. Anyone who needs to message me who I want to hear from has my phone number anyway!

        1. animaniactoo*

          You can! At the bottom of the chat panel there’s a separate settings icon just for the chat. And one of the options is “Turn off Chat”.

    2. JHS*

      I would just say you’re busy and then every time he asks, you’re busy, but thanks for thinking of you and see him around. If it escalates and gets more aggressive, then maybe a more aggressive response, but right now just too busy in a polite way.

      1. Katniss*

        Yeah, that’s a very good suggestion and also very true, which helps. Even when I’m at home there’s stuff I’m busy doing. Would you suggest just ignoring his Facebook message asking about it?

        1. JHS*

          I would respond if he said “do you want to hang out?” or something and just say no you’re sorry but busy. If he continues with some kind of conversation just don’t look at it for like a week and then after a week you can say “oh sorry I rarely check this messenger, so sorry to have missed your message but hope you’re doing well! see you around!”

          1. Katniss*

            This is PERFECT. Thank you. I have such a hard time saying no at the best of times, which is something I’m working on, but I also get the feeling that this is a guy who will not let up if I give even an inch. And I don’t need to get embroiled in this kind of thing with my neighbor.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Tell him you don’t have a lot of time to look at things on the computer. If it’s true add a little story about a family member or good friend waiting weeks for you to respond to them. Or tell him your job exhausts you or whatever. Blame a neutral thing that is over there somewhere.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I wouldn’t go into a lot of detail – that just invites conversation and “yes, but” arguing. ‘Busy’ works.

    4. Charlie Q*

      Maybe something like “Thanks for asking, but I’ll have to pass/I’m not interested. Hope you’re well!” Cheery, straightforward, but not an excuse he might try to work around, i.e., “I’m too busy.” “Well, when are you free? I’m flexible!”

      1. frobly*

        Not really super helpful, but my favorite response is from Phoebe in Friends: Oh, I wish I could, but I don’t want to.

  10. Victoria, Please*

    Oh yay, I’m in early — Happy New Year everyone! Be safe.

    Recommendations for a laptop for personal use? Mostly I want to internet surf, watch videos, and do light word-processing or spreadsheet tasks. I don’t game or do things that require lots of graphic mojo. I like the 2-in-1’s because I would love to have the flexibility of tablet/pc. Looking to stay away from Apple because I’m already bought into them deep enough and don’t need more. Cost is not as important but under $1000 would be best.

    I tried a Dell Inspiron 5000 2-in-1 and I wanted to love it, but the darn thing runs incredibly hot, has a very loud fan, and somehow seems slow and glitchy. So I’m returning it. Any ideas very welcome!

    1. Katniss*

      Maybe a Chromebook? They’re basically Internet machines, and you could do word processing and spreadsheet tasks via Drive and use apps for watching videos. They’re also incredibly lightweight, so while they aren’t 2-in-1s they can function like that.

      1. Girasol*

        I’ve heard wonderful things about Chromebook so I got one, looked at it, and sent it back. Coincidentally it was damaged, but I decided against replacement because the fan kicked on and off loudly and often, and because I couldn’t get comfortable with the idea that Google would own all my files and just let me use them. They reserve the right to take them and lock me out at will. I assume that’s so that they can halt child porn and the like. But the fact that they could take all my stuff without warning, and that they could be reading my every word and financial spreadsheet into their own demographic knowledge base seems like electronic boundary violation.

        1. Victoria, Please*

          Hm!! I don’t love that either! And I didn’t know it, so thank you for pointing it out. I wonder if all my work collaborators who are addicted to Drive know it….

          Also I just don’t like using Drive that much, I really need to be able to use standard applications.

    2. printrovert*

      I second the Chromebook. Great for light work. I would definitely move to it if I didn’t have my graphic design projects.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’d also recommend a Chromebook. There are many models of varying build quality and at different price points, if quality is a concern.

    3. CAA*

      Are you familiar with I was just reading their “what laptop should I buy?” article a few days ago. For the best budget laptop, they recommend the Acer Aspire E5-575G-53VG for $550. In Chromebooks, they recommend the Dell Chromebook 13 for $430.

      For myself, I think the extra $120 is worth it to be able to run real MS Office apps, but I tend to do unusual Excel things that Google Sheets and other spreadsheets can’t handle.

      Anyway, I highly recommend wandering over there and looking through their articles. I’ve generally found their research to be solid and while I don’t agree with everything they suggest, they do explain their methodologies and how they decided on each recommendation, so it’s pretty easy to see where they thought some feature was less important than I might think it is.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I can’t speak to the model you suggested, but I’ve had two Acer netbooks and I was really happy with both of them. Both got pretty heavy use for work/school, but I never had any problems to speak of. The only reason I replaced the first one was that it was 4 years old and newer models were much sleeker and lighter, so I chose to upgrade. Definitely recommend the brand based on personal experience.

    4. krysb*

      I have Toshiba 2-in-1s – a 10-inch and a 14 inch. I don’t think it runs hot? I’ve never noticed anyway, because I’m usually either at a desk or use a lap desk – you’re actually not supposed to put laptops directly on your lap (counterintuitive, I know). Either way, I’ve never had a problem with either.

    5. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I hate Dells with a vengeance. I also have 25 years working in IT to support that hatred. Quality control is a joke. Support for personal models is pathetic. Chromebooks are a great bargain. For those worried about Google reading their files, look at it this way. There are literally millions of folks using Google Drive. Entire companies and organizations do so. Google doesn’t have enough staff nor any desire to go reading people’s files. Not so sure about the government, but that’s another discussion altogether! :-P

      Had great luck with HP products over the years. Acers have been pretty good. Used to be a Mac fan but not impressed with recent offerings.

      Good luck with your shopping

    6. Damn it Hardison!*

      I just got an ASUS Zenbook and good so far! I read the recommendations on thewirecutterdotcom and was going to go with the Dell XPS 13 but then went with the ASUS as it was much cheaper. The Wirecutter really like the ASUS for fairly light/basic use like you described (which is pretty much like my use).

    7. Annie*

      If you’re looking for something with a 15-inch screen or full-sized keyboard like what the laptop you wish to replace has, feel free to ignore the rest of my comment.

      I got a RCA Viking Pro for Christmas, and it seems like something that would meet your needs. It runs Android and has the Play Store.

      It comes with a detachable keyboard, so the tablet stays in the air away from your fingers while you’re typing. It also comes with an office suite that can open, edit, and create Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. 720p YouTube videos run smoothly on it. It has a six-hour battery life.

      If you need Windows, the RCA Cambio is similar to the Viking Pro hardware-wise.

  11. Windchime*

    Has anyone tried acupuncture for back pain? My back has been hurting for about 4 months now. At first it seemed like it was in my hips, but the X-rays showed nothing. Now I feel like the problem is my back. I went in for SI joint injections about a month ago and it helped for a few days, but now I’m right back to being almost disabled. I don’t want surgery; I’d rather try other options first so I have an appointment for acupuncture next week.

    What are your experiences with accupuncture?

    1. BRR*

      Do you know the cause of the back pain? I’d probably want a diagnosis before going for acupuncture. I have two herniated discs and posted here before and many people recommended acupuncture saying they had positive results.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Both my dog and my husband had acupuncture. They seemed to feel positive about it, but I did not see any major improvements. Some people make out very well with it. I think it varies with people. I have tried doing my own acupuncture with baby needles. (long story) I found it got rid of the pain, but it did not get rid of the underlying problem. I needed a chiropractic adjustment as I had a misalignment.

      I was very concerned about the needles at first. But the smaller needles are nothing, mosquito bites hurt more than these needles.

      The one odd thing that amused me was the body tends to run the show. Some times needles just fall out. That means the body does not want that a needle in that spot. I have seen it go the other way where the practitioner cannot remove the needle because the body has latched on to it. So they wait. Later the needle comes right out. I saw that happen with both my husband and my dog. Interesting stuff.

      I like checking out alternative modalities but I am very results oriented. For me, I can get better results using other therapies. But I do know that some people get great results.

    3. Junior Dev*

      I tried accupuncture for back pain and it did not help. Have you seen a physical therapist? One who assigns you actual exercises and stretches, not just tells you to take an ibuprofen and “don’t exert yourself too hard”? I’d try to get in at a PT clinic if you can, not a general medical clinic or hospital that happens to have a PT on staff.

      I made a big list of back pain suggestions on a thread several weeks ago. I’ll see if I can find it.

        1. Windchime*

          Thanks. I’ve been to a physical therapist and she thinks that I have a weak core, which I would agree with but after a month of PT, nothing has changed. The exercises she is giving me are basically nothing.

    4. Amadeo*

      Ugh, if you are having SI joint dysfunction/inflammation, I feel for you in the worst way. I went through that and when physical therapy didn’t work, I went to the chiropractor. I went through the dex patches driven by electricity that felt like bees and a back stretching table that I ended up begging them not to do anymore because I could barely get up off the thing when they were done.

      What did help though was the adjustments, lying on my side and the chiropractor basically pulling that joint back into place. Ultimately the problem began to fade on its own and I don’t have much trouble at all anymore, but it was awful going through it to the other side. The man did acupuncture at his office too, but never recommended it to me. I’d have been curious, though.

    5. Racheous*

      I just graduated from PT for my back. It was a great experience for me, and very successful. It helps to get a proper diagnosis first. I started with my PCP, and I’m really lucky to have him. He was pretty close to the root cause, and referred me to physical therapy. I forget all the words, but it was basically caused by my desk job. I’m otherwise quite active. I’ve returned to most of my activities and am pain free most days. As I’ve increased my activity, I have days I feel it more, but I have knowledge and tools to get me through now. I also get acupuncture, but for other things. There’s no way it would help me strengthen my core, or instruct me to move in healthy ways, but I do believe in it. It can help metabolism, healing and most recently reduced swelling and itching in some hives. If nothing else, it’s been a mindfulness exercise in setting aside time and attention for wellness. That can be said about my PT appointments, the time I spend at the gym doing my exercises and also acupuncture. I hope you can see a doctor and get on a path toward healing!!

      1. periwinkle*

        Ditto on the PT. My left knee was getting stiffer over the last year and then suddenly morphed into Pain Central. X-rays were negative so my PCP referred me to PT before trying anything more drastic/expensive like MRIs and exploratory surgery. I’ve been going for about two months and other than a little stiffness when my knee has been idle for a while, the pain is gone.

        Unexpected side effect: the 2x/week exercises during the PT sessions made my knee feel so much better – and the rest of me, too – that I’m ready to (finally!) start exercising again.

      2. Stephanie*

        Almost identical process for me too! I had back/hip pain (in my early 20s) for a year and continually strained my QL which would be debilitating for a day or two at a time. I ignored it for, well, a year, and finally decided I needed to get it taken care of. X-ray didn’t show anything, chiropractor was unhelpful (probably just this one, not a knock on the whole field!), but finally I went to PT and they diagnosed a hip alignment issue. I can’t even begin to express what a weight off my shoulders it was to finally know what was going on! I did 8 weeks of PT and just “graduated” too – it was a mix of exercises to strengthen my core and twice-weekly adjustments with my PT where she seemed to quite literally push/press my hips back into alignment (note: not a massage… I’m talking elbow jamming down directly on bony areas!). I’d 110% recommend considering PT as an option!

    6. Josie*

      I’ve had acupuncture for a few different issues (hips, legs, arms, head), and with a few different practitioners. There was a noticable difference in effect between the practitioners. The first one I went to was really helpful, I went from having mobility and breathing issues due to pain to barely any pain within two months. Because of a move I had to go to a different one a few years later, but the treatment was of no help. The third one was okay. I still miss the first one I went to.

      I can recommend physiotherapy as well, if that’s an option. It pretty much saved me from long term sick leave last year when there was severe enough pain from neck to hips that I trouble moving without crying or losing my breath.

      1. Saturnalia*

        +1 to physiotherapy. I have been managing back pain for ten years, mostly successfully thanks to exercises, stretches, and other tools from my physiotherapy appointments. Prior to that I’d been told that I had spinal degeneration of someone 3x my age and would need spinal injections in order to manage pain.

        I also happen to be needle phobic, so acupuncture sounded nearly as bad as the spinal injections ;)

    7. Mike C.*

      Looking at the Cochrane reviews, NIH and others I’m highly skeptical that you’ll find relief using acupuncture. Practitioners claim it will treat anything from pain to mental illness to pertussis, and the reports I’m finding show little to no evidence of any effective treatment.

      I’ll think you’ll have the best luck finding a good physical therapist or looking into your ergonomic environment.

    8. blackcat*

      Yes, and it changed my life. As in, going from nearly bedridden post injury to no problems in the last 10+ years.

      BUT BUT BUT it’s hugely practitioner dependent. I saw someone who was both traditionally trained in China AND an MD. Those are very, very rare. The guy I saw is dead now (he was old then). He was a miracle worker and viewed acupuncture as a type of medicine that we don’t yet fully understand. He 100% fixed my back pain, despite the underlying physical cause (vertebrae damage) remaining. He could cure a sprained knee in one visit. He could cut off feeling to an entire limb with only one needle. He had, apparently, performed surgery using acupuncture as the only form of anesthesia. He was a true master acupuncturist and worth his weight in gold.

      Years later, I tried to see someone about my knee. He was a new-agey youngish white dude who went on and on about the energy in my body being off. He tried to sell me on supplements. His treatments were nearly useless, though he was able to get inflammation to go down (which may be helpful to you if joint injections have been helpful–this seems to be a basic acupuncture skill that even borderline incompetent acupuncturists can master).

      My experience has left me with the sorta racist attitude that I don’t trust white acupuncturists. I’m only willing to see someone who did a proper apprenticeship in China. These people are rare outside of China, though they can sometimes be found in major cities.

      So, my experience is a mixed bag. If you can find a good person, it can be amazing. I have been pain free for over a decade, despite several orthopedists insisting that I should have had surgery/ be in excruciating pain/possibly be partly paralyzed given my condition.

      1. Mike C.*

        I have a difficult time believing these claims given that the results you speak of don’t show up in double-blind studies. Performing surgery with only a few needles instead of anesthesia? That smells of quackery, not miracles. Not to mention the fact that the foundations of acupuncture (qi, meridians and so on) aren’t detectable or measurable in any way, shape or form.

        Even if these practitioners have somehow convinced you that your inflammation is gone, the underlying damage causing it will still be there. If acupuncture was effective, it would show up clearly and with clinically useful differences in double-blind studies.

        1. Marvel*

          I don’t see blackcat making any “claims” here–I see them talking about their personal experience. You are, of course, correct that there is not an empirical body of evidence attesting to the effectiveness of acupuncture (obviously). But nevertheless, many people have found it be effective FOR THEM. I think it’s deeply misguided to invalidate someone’s experience just because it’s not scientifically measurable, and OP didn’t ask for studies, they asked for experiences. From your comment above, it sounds like you don’t have that, just knowledge of how to do basic internet research, which I’m sure they can do themselves.

          Is acupuncture unscientific? Absolutely. But I don’t see anyone here claiming that it is, unscientific is not the same thing is ineffective.

          1. Marvel*

            Addendum: to be fair to you, Mike C., I do totally understand the intolerance for the scientifically wishy-washy when it comes to medicine. In most ways I am very much in your camp there; I would not personally get acupuncture, or recommend anyone else do so, no matter how many people extoll its virtues to me. But my perspective is not the only perspective, and I think it’s a bit myopic to advocate that others conform to those standards in their own personal choices regarding their health.

            1. Mike C.*

              I think it’s unethical to advocate for forms of medical treatment have repeatedly been shown to have no clinical value. Time and resources are scarce and can get in the way of more effective treatments.

        2. blackcat*

          I don’t think it’s miracles and I don’t think there’s anything really to qi etc–I think it’s manipulation of the nervous system. That’s how the master acupuncturist described it to me at the time, and that does make some sense to me. Having experienced this directly, that’s what it *feels* like. You know the feeling of a leg or foot falling asleep (caused by pressure/changing blood flow)? It sorta felt like that when he would numb something, at least at first. It doesn’t feel magical–it feels like some biological functions are being manipulated. I’m a scientist who is deeply skeptical of most alternative medicine, but I also recognize that many non-western civilizations developed tools and medicines over millennia that do actually work. Trial and error is not the best scientific process, but it does work some of the time.

          As with individual experiences with acupuncture, double-blind studies are as good as the practitioners involved. I think true master acupuncturists are quite rare. The guy I saw was not a quack. He was a US-trained surgeon. He used acupuncture to perform surgery in rural parts of China that otherwise would have no access. He was a fascinating man who had devoted his life to medicine. New-agey dude WAS a quack. There are absolutely a lot of quacks out there in acupuncture/other alternative medicine communities.

          As for modern scientific studies, the strongest evidence I have seen for the efficacy of acupuncture comes from how it is used in veterinary medicine. You can explain away the impacts of acupuncture on dogs with placebo effect by proxy, but horses have never been shown to experience placebo by proxy. Acupuncture is widely used on horses with significant effects (seen in controlled studies) and is now taught in mainstream veterinary programs in the US.

          As I said, I’m a scientist. I don’t tolerate bullshit about the body’s energy or stuff like that. But I have a very humble attitude towards biological sciences–there is SO MUCH we don’t understand. It’s not surprising to me that many civilizations have come up with stuff that works that we can’t explain. Or that things that work well for a subset of the population may completely fail in another subset (which is why studies can show “no impact” overall, yet individuals report tremendous experiences). Cultures may explain their traditional medicine in spiritual terms, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some sensible, underlying mechanism for how it works. See aspirin, for example. It was used for thousands of years before we had even a remote idea of why it works.

          1. Mike C.*

            The OP isn’t a horse – though animal studies are an important step in medical research you cannot rely on them alone nor can you ignore the human studies which show no clinical efficacy. If it passes double-blind studies horses, then use it on horses.

            Passing a double -blind study doesn’t require an understanding of the underlying mechanisms to be legit. It doesn’t matter what stuff was traditionally called so long as that difference between the control group and the experiment group shows up.

            All this leads to are people who waste limited resources on ineffective treatment and delay or even refuse treatments that have been shown to be effective instead. Years ago I got to watch my late grandfather eschew actual medicine and instead chose “Chinese herbs”, kombucha tea and yes, acupuncture to “treat” his cancer. Of course, it didn’t do anything to help and he died miserable and in a great deal of pain. Current cancer treatments aren’t perfect by a long shot, but they certainly pass double-blind studies.

            I’m more than happy to change my opinion of new studies emerge and stand up to repetition and scrutiny but until then I have to cry foul.

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Going through this right now with what ended up being a herniated disc and spinal canal narrowing (spinal stenosis). I went to a chiro first to get me moving again, which they did – I was WAY out of alignment, but I figured it was the usual pelvic adjustment that I needed done. They were an integrated chiro who also used massage and acupuncture in the adjustment session. I hadnt tried acupuncture before but am usually pretty open to things and found it… interesting. Not sure exactly what it did though.

      At least try the acupuncture, but in the end, getting a formal medical diagnosis is going to be your best bet. I finally caved and went to my PCP due to resulting nerve pain, got an MRI done, and it confirmed what was going on that the chiros suspected but couldn’t know for sure. I’m not sure an x-ray would have pulled it up. I ended up on some pills to manage the symptoms but its a minimal amount at least. Hoping this isn’t going to require surgery but suspect it will.

  12. Cruciatus*

    Ay-yi-yi! So I noticed recently I had trouble logging into my Walmart Savings Catcher account and today I finally decided to get to the bottom of it. Maybe I *did* forget my password, yet when I put in my email it says that email isn’t associated with an account there. So I get the chat help going and the guy re-opens my account. I check my Savings Catcher money and…it’s gone. So obviously someone hacked into my account and stole my money and disassociated my email with the account. I’ve emailed Walmart and will be interested in what they do…but just a warning! If you have a Walmart Account and/or Savings Catcher app, please check your account! I don’t think there’s anything I could have really done to stop it. I checked my emails and there was nothing weird or suspicious. None I would have clicked anything in. This just happened recently. I will be changing lots of passwords today just in case. And online there is a huge amount of discussion about this happening. So just consider this a reminder to check your account and update passwords as necessary. I actually had just changed my password recently which makes it all the more weird but if someone wants in, they will find a way…

    1. MsChanandlerBong*

      I’m sorry this happened to you. Walmart’s online security is crap. Someone hacked my account and bought a $500 laptop with my saved debit card. The idiot even used their real address and phone number for shipping, but Walmart didn’t do anything about it, and neither did the police. The Savings Catcher page has been acting weird lately, so hopefully they do something to fix any vulnerabilities.

      1. JessaB*

        In that case try going to your bank. I’ve always had good results with my bank about stuff like that. Banks really do not like credit card fraudsters. On the other hand it depends on the bank. My bank is great. My sister’s bank not so much.

        1. Audiophile*

          What bank do you use? I’ve been looking at switching, especially since my bank went to more traditional hours.

    2. Elkay*

      Did you get caught by the LinkedIn or Yahoo hack? I had someone try to drain my cashback account because while I’d changed LinkedIn I’d forgotten I’d used the same password on other accounts. It sucks either way and the change of email + draining should have sent a flag up in their system.

  13. Kitty problems con't.*

    I took my 11 yo female cat to the vet where she was treated for a UTI. It’s been about 10 days, and she will not go back in her litterbox…at all. I finally got so frustrated with cleaning the carpet, and sometimes my bed, I put pee pads down in front of her boxes. She does use those to pee on, but poops under the bed and other places in the room. In addition to adding a 2nd litterbox (she is the only cat), I’ve tried 4 different kinds of litter, including Cat Attract. I have feline pine on order. Luckily I have a very understanding and mellow husband who is not giving me a hard time about it, but frankly it is getting hard to deal with, and needless to say, the room is getting stinky, despite my constantly cleaning up with Nature’s Miracle. I am fully committed to my sweet kitty; she’s not going anywhere, BUT, I would really love to get a resolution to this soon. She seems happy otherwise, and is eating, drinking, and playing normally. There haven’t been any other changes in routine or her life in general. Is there’s something I’m missing here, or not thinking of, or not trying?

    1. Windchime*

      The only thing I can think of is maybe her UTI is not cleared up completely and it still hurts? Also, I wonder if she has associated that particular box with pain and maybe if you bought a new letterbox for her, she might use it.

      Cats are funny animals. They are so particular about certain things and it’s not always easy to figure out what they are trying to tell us.

    2. FD*

      When a cat has a UTI, it can become very painful to pee, so some cats stop using it after that because they’ve decided that the litter box is what’s causing the pain.

      Can you get a large number of disposable boxes and start putting them where she’s doing her messes? That might help start getting her back in the habit of using them.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Yeah, what FD said.

        It might be a good idea to put the disposable or cheap boxes near/on the places she has used instead of the litterbox.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Maybe the UTI isn’t fully healed? Or maybe she was having a lot of pain from it and remembers that pain, which is why she could be avoiding the litter box. I’d take her back for another urinalysis to make sure the UTI is gone. Good luck!

      I totally understand your frustration. I’m having similar issues (peeing outside the box) with one cat after bringing a new cat into the household. I got so tired of her peeing on the couch and having to use the upholstery cleaner that we bought a painter’s drop cloth and put it on the couch. We covered it with those pet hair couch covers. At least if she pees, it won’t soak through to the couch. I’ve been using Feliway plugins, 24/7 NatureCalm calming collars on the affected cat and the new cat, and now the affected cat just started Paxil yesterday. She stopped the peeing on the couch after using the plugins and collar, but she still won’t go back to roaming freely through the house. She stays in the family room, usually on the couch or in the cat tree. Hoping the Paxil will help her feel normal again. (A nice side effect of using the Feliway plugins is that two other cats have drastically reduced their spraying. I think one of them would benefit from a calming collar, but there’s no way at all I can get one on her.)

    4. Marzipan*

      After he had a major UTI and became convinced the problem was not with him but that the litter tray was somehow hurting him, my cat started weeing in all kinds of random locations to see if they’d be better. (I did draw the line when I caught him climbing into my bag with a determined look on his face). He eventually decided that going on plastic bags on the wide step where the stairs turn was acceptable. So I put the litter tray there, and he started using it again. (I have to admit I’ve never moved it back to anywhere more sensible, because I’m lazy and don’t want to tempt fate…)

    5. Perse's Mom*

      1. If you have more than one floor to your home, there should be at least one litterbox on each floor (particularly with older cats or ones with urinary issues, sometimes timing alone can mean they don’t make it if they’re dealing with flights of stairs or large floor plans (or tiny bladders or the constant urge to pee)). If you have both litterboxes in the same area, move them both. Put one closer to where she consistently is peeing where she shouldn’t be and the other in another room of the house – wherever she hangs out (and probably has no pain association). Having a second box in a totally new (quiet!) spot might spur her to use it.

      2. Have her rechecked to be sure the UTI is gone. Sometimes the first set of meds isn’t quite up to the task or just doesn’t get it all.

      3. You may have to put kitty in a bathroom for a few days to monitor her box use. If even in a more confined space, she still pees anywhere but the box, that’s a much harder nut to crack.

      What you’re trying to teach her at this point is mainly just that it no longer hurts for her to pee in said box. You’re trying to break the pain association link she has with it. But that’s only going to work if the UTI is fully cleared up, otherwise it just reinforces that link the next time she goes and it burns.

      Litterbox issues are probably THE single most difficult problem to resolve for cats. It sucks for both you and the kitty and I’m sorry.

    6. krysb*

      I had to deal with this with my last cat. He had bladder crystals. Apparently these issues cause cats to fear little boxes because they associate the box with the pain. A totally new litterbox (with new litter, duh) in a totally different area helped. I also had to keep the box super-clean or he wouldn’t use it.

    7. Rogue*

      No suggestions or advice, but I feel your pain. Between my 2, we’ve had doggy diarrhea for almost a week. I’m hoping by tomorrow the first is back to normal and I think we have the second one’s under control, hopefully. I hope you’re able to figure something out for kitty.

  14. MsChanandlerBong*

    Thank you to everyone who answered my computer AND baking questions last week. It turns out that all my computer problems stopped when I unplugged it from the charger, so it WAS a voltage issue. I am currently waiting for my new charger to arrive, but all I have to do if the problems start is unplug the laptop and let the battery run down for a while. I’m so glad I asked about it here before I reinstalled Windows.

    The baking problem has also been solved. A few people suggested my oven was not heating to the right temp. I ordered an oven thermometer the same day. When it came, I heated the oven to 350, but the thermometer only registered 297, so it’s over 50 degrees off. The good news is that the oven and fridge both broke after a power surge caused by an equipment failure at the electric company (the company sent an email the day of the outages explaining that their equipment was at fault). I was able to give my landlord a copy of the email, and she was able to get the power company to agree to pay for an electrician and an appliance repair technician to come here. The electrician came yesterday; everything is fine with the wiring and outlets. He did determine that the fridge is a goner, but it’s over 10 years old, and it’s actually an “extra” fridge, so we’re just going to have the power company take it away. The appliance guy is coming next week; for now, I am just using the thermometer to make sure the oven heats to the right temp for each of my recipes.

    I’m so grateful for this helpful community. Happy new year!!

  15. Anne*

    Wedding bands for women… I want just a plain gold band but apparently there are still so many options. Any opinions out there that people want to share? Width? Dome vs flat?

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Try some on! You may find that one style feels more comfortable to you than another, or that certain styles look better on your hand than others.

      I chose a relatively thin band because I wanted to wear it with my engagement band most of the time. I probably would have gotten a thicker wedding band if I wanted to wear it alone often. My band is white gold and has a small “dip” to fit around the curve of my engagement band.

    2. FDCA In Canada*

      I have a plain white gold band that’s the thinnest they had available, 2mm, slightly domed. My engagement ring is very pretty but very intricate (stones, engravings, etc) and I wanted something for my wedding band that I would never have to take off and wouldn’t have to worry about getting stuff in it or losing stones out of it. So it’s plain, thin, and goes reasonably well with my engagement ring. For domed vs flat, it’s really just personal preference and what you think looks nice–same with the width, I’d imagine. My husband’s matches, his is just 4mm instead of 2.

    3. Central Perk Regular*

      I got married earlier this year. I wanted a simple white gold wedding band. I tried some on with my engagement ring and I just didnt like the way it looked. I ended up getting a very thin band with small encrusted diamonds and it looks great with my engagement ring (an Asscher cut diamond with a halo).

    4. TeacherNerd*

      My husband and I got our wedding bands on Amazon (really!). My husband’s was a bit wider but one could choose diameter, ring size, etc., and they fit very well. My husband especially wanted matching bands, and I prefer white gold. We got them engraved at a local jeweler. I’m not really into diamonds or jewels so I didn’t want anything with gems.

      For my engagement ring, my husband got me a white gold Claddagh ( ring that had diamond chips in the heart (I have Irish citizenship and my parents live in Ireland, so there’s some meaning there for me). My engagement ring is a bit larger just by dint of the design of the Claddah so I can’t wear my engagement and wedding rings together, but that doesn’t really bother me. Sometimes I just wear my Claddagh ring (which, depending on which finger you wear it and the direction of the crown, can be interpreted as a wedding ring).

    5. Christy*

      I don’t have an engagement ring, but my wedding band is 2.5 mm, slightly domed, undipped white gold, antique and engraved with a floral pattern. I am in love with it.

    6. DragoCucina*

      I wear a thin gold band (no engagement ring). It’s flat. Actually it’s beveled and looks like gold bamboo. I’ve never seen another like it. It doesn’t have the bumpy sections of the Gucci ring. It’s unique without being weird.

    7. Ren*

      I have trouble with my hands swelling and found that a ring with a curved inner profile is much easier to get on and off. There are some wedding ring sites that will send you silver sample rings in the mail to test size and shape before you order your final ring which is super helpful if your hands change size a lot or you don’t wear rings often

    8. Bonky*

      My band’s platinum, with a little dip in it to accommodate the stone in my engagement ring so they don’t bang into each other.

      It’s a long time ago now, but I remember the jeweller had a useful tip: don’t buy a ring that has a flat profile inside; get one with a round profile. Soap, dirt and other gunk gets caught underneath the flat ones, and can cause surprisingly bad irritation; some people who believe they are allergic to metal are just reacting to the goo under their jewellery.

    9. Meredith*

      We got different sizes of the same gold band, and got them engraved on the inside (surprised each other with the engravings). Both of our hands are large, so we went with a thick gold domed band. Note that your fingers tend to be thicker in summer and thinner in winter. Our jeweler offers one free resize, and we both ended up having to go down half a size after the wedding.

  16. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Books that everyone else — or at least people with similar reading taste to you — loves that you cannot get into? For me recently, it’s been:
    * the Elena Ferrante books (people love these! I can’t get into them)
    * Where’d You Go, Bernadette (same here)
    * A Gentleman in Moscow (I was so sure I’d like this and it feels like a personal failing)

    1. MsChanandlerBong*

      I have been trying to read “Wicked” for years. I’ve read the same few chapters about ten times, but I just think it’s so boring.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My sister bought “Wicked” for me several years ago, and I’ve never been able to get through it. Also “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”. I still have hope for both books, though; sometimes I have to start a book several times before it finally grabs me.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Nah, I’m kind of a lone wolf when it comes to books. I very rarely read anything someone recommends. Maybe because I tend to stick with the same authors. But if I had to pick one, it would be 50 Shades of Grey. That’s the only one I tried to read because so many people were raving about it. Just couldn’t get into it because the writing was…not good.

    3. printrovert*

      Earlier this year, I started American Gods by Gaiman. I read a good chunk of it but only before I went to sleep. It just didn’t grab me. I finally took it back to the library but I may try again at some point.

        1. printrovert*

          Oh good, it isn’t just me.
          The Fiery Cross by Gabaldon is another one. I finished it but after I added it to my Goodreads account, I saw there were a lot of not-so-hot reviews.

          1. jamlady*

            Haha you and I are similar. I did the same thing with Fiery Cross (finished but meh) and I kept falling asleep during American Gods. It was recommended to me because I’m a big Supernatural fan (TV show) and the parallels just weren’t there for me. And it was boring. I gave up halfway through.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        American Gods is one where I’d recommend trying the audiobook instead. I got the tenth anniversary edition on Audible (I’m in grad school and keep my physical reading limited during the semester), and the performances are incredible and really bring it to life for me.

      2. TheLazyB*

        I want to read neverwhere but every time I’ve tried I’ve lost interest really fast. I love some Gaiman books but others leave me totally cold.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          Get the audiobook! BBC Radio 4 did an adaptation that’s available on Audible–six half-hour episodes, with excellent actors (James MacAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Sophie Okenedo, Benedict Cumberbatch). It’s a really good story, but the adaptation lets you focus on the fun bits.

    4. Cruciatus*

      It sucks when you do the recommending. I loved A Man Called Ove but my coworker couldn’t even finish it. Why does this feel so personal!?

      But I never got into The Night Circus despite raves everywhere. There are others I’m just not thinking of at the moment. Oh! The Goldfinch. Hated. It. But I do have one person in my life who also disliked these things and made me feel better that I wasn’t alone out there.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        The Golfinch is a terrible book at was at least 400 pages too long. We read it for my book club once, and only one of us had finished it. The next month, our criteria were: must be short, must be funny.

      2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Yeah, I loved Donna Tartt’s other books but I couldn’t even make it through the first chapter of the Goldfinch.

      3. AlwaysHungry*

        Agreed on The Night Circus – it seemed half-baked to me. Like it was trying too hard to be mystical and deep and romantic but it just wasn’t there.

    5. Cath in Canada*

      Anything by Anita Shreve. My whole family raves about her, and we usually all like similar books, but I’ve read two of her novels and don’t see the appeal.

      I also have a somewhat irrational dislike of books where a main character is an author and snippets of “their books” are included in the text, and of books set in the English or Liberal Arts departments of universities. I mean, I understand “write what you know”, but both tropes are way overused IMO. This rules out a ton of books that other people really like, such as most John Irving (although I love A Prayer for Owen Meaney and don’t mind The World According to Garp), The Secret History, The Kite Runner to some extent, etc.

      Come to think of it, the first Anita Shreve book I read used both of these devices. The second used neither, but I didn’t like that one either!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree–I am sick of reading books where the main character is a writer. It’s almost ubiquitous in horror fiction. Which is stupid! Horror is a subset of fantasy–make something up! Or do research!

      2. C Average*

        I am convinced that Anita Shreve has someone else write her endings. She writes beginnings that I find compelling, and middles that don’t sag too badly, but the ending is just always a hot mess! I don’t even try to read her books anymore.

        I really, really disliked The Secret History. I disliked it to the extent that I have resisted giving her most recent book a chance, even though everyone assures me I will like it.

    6. Overeducated*

      The Culture novels by Iain M Banks. I like Sci fi and three people I share books with frequently love these, but I find them a bit clumsy and lacking in characterization. I read 3 or 4 to give them a really solid chance!

      1. C Average*

        I have the first one. It was given to me by someone who made a big speech about only giving it to people he admired intellectually and whom he felt confident would appreciate it properly and likely enjoy it. I keep trying to start it, but I am not finding it compelling.

          1. C Average*

            Normally it would’ve, but it was delivered by a dear old friend who has a huge vocabulary and a delightful South African accent, so everything he says sounds wise and witty when he’s saying it. He is easily one of the ten most fun people I know and would definitely be a finalist for my desert island list. I’m afraid we just don’t have the same taste in books, though.

    7. Sparkly Librarian*

      Anything by Brandon Sanderson… my sister and her boyfriend love everything he’s written, and I’ve tried one superhero book and one other novel and I just. Don’t. Get. It.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          One of my coworkers raves about him, and we like a lot of the same books/authors otherwise. My only exposure to his writing is in him finishing the Wheel of Time books after Robert Jordan passed on, and I was annoyed enough at his flourishes that I just don’t want to read any of his original works.

    8. MarianCSRA*

      Harry Potter. I’ve tried the first book multiple times. I’ve never seen any of the movies either. And I’m a teen librarian.

        1. Lore*

          Ooh, I hated that all the way through. It felt like warmed-over Narnia. (Weirdly, though, the TV series just came to Netflix and I’m tempted.)

          1. hermit crab*

            The warmed-over Narnia thing is kind of the point though, isn’t it? My read of the first book was that it’s about how we as a culture are so obsessed with these escapist fantasy worlds like Narnia or Harry Potter or whatever, where we think everything will be better — but the truth is that people are just really shitty to each other all the time, whatever the setting, even in escapist fantasy worlds. The book was too depressing for my taste (especially since it was sold to me as “like if Gossip Girl went to Hogwarts”), but I do think the Narnia thing was intentional and pretty effective.

            1. Lore*

              Oh it’s definitely intentional. I just felt like that’s pretty much the narrative of most modern multi world fantasy series and other ones are way more original about it.

          2. Kat_Ma_Ras*

            I never got into or got the hype over Harry Potter OR Narnia. Attempted and gave up on first book in both series. I’ve seen the first movie of each, and felt no compulsion to seek out further episodes.

            I read LOTR when I was quite young, and was admittedly a little too old for the Harry Potter craze when it started. I’m pretty sure Narnia was around for my generation though. I grew up stealing books from my dad’s SciFi shelf in the vein of Asimov, Heinlein, Arthur C Clarke.

      1. Oryx*

        I don’t know at which point you gave up, but I was told — and then I tell this to other people, too — you have to at least get to the part where he gets to school. The scene of entrance exam changed everything for me and I found it really picked up after that.

        Even now, having read the books multiple times, I have to slough through the world building but once he gets to school I’m enthralled.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          Which I find strange because the only part of it I didn’t care for was toward the end when he ends up goes up to Trebon. I had issues with big chunks of the second book as well the first time I read it, but it bothered me less the second time through more recently.

          I also just… really don’t care for his love interest, but I’ve read some interesting fan theories about where Rothfuss may be going with it that’s helped me to back up a bit on that.

        2. neverjaunty*

          You don’t “have to” get through anything, though!

          Admittedly this is my pet peeve – books aren’t supposed to be a crappy slog before you ‘get to the good parts’. If a writer can’t make things interesting early on, then they’re not a good enough writer for me to be wasting time on. (I do grandfather in older books – I’m not gonna ding Melville for making the first hundred pages of Moby Dick a little slow.) I especially hate this when it’s “oh, you have to get through the first couple of books in that series and then it gets awesome.”

          1. Oryx*

            Oh, I fully agree, trust me. I have no issue dropping books that don’t appeal to me, but when someone whose taste I really trust tells me to read a book, I like to take their advice.

    9. Jen RO*

      Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. I love sci-fi and this has won pretty much all the major awards… and I found it alternately boring and annoying. I didn’t continue past the first book in the series.

      1. Lady Julian*

        Me too! There were some really interesting ideas (ship-as-character, for instance), but nobody was compelling and the story was SO hard to keep track of.

    10. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Jane Eyre. I am famous in some of my social circles for my disdain of Jane Eyre. Everyone’s always like, it’s such a feminist book! And I’m like, the lesson of this book is that it’s a great idea to marry a guy who lies to you and has a habit of locking women in attics. (I did like Re Jane [by Patricia Park] though!)

      Also re: Where’d You Go, Bernadette: I really liked that one, but I have since read both of her other novels and I did NOT like either of them. (Not as much as I dislike Jane Eyre, but I really thought both were quite bad.)

      1. Lily Evans*

        I couldn’t stand Jane Eyre either! Two of my lit classes in college had it as required reading, and the second time I was like, well, at least I don’t actually have to read it this time.

        1. Chaordic One*

          I liked it the first time through, but over time I’ve come to loathe it. It just seems more and more pretentious and ridiculous every time I read it or see a bad movie adaptation. It is ripe for parody. Like this skit, “Jane Eyrehead” as performed by the cast of SCTV:

          Saturday Night Live also did a parody, but SCTV’s was better (IMO).

    11. Chilleh*

      Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

      The Wheel of Time series

      A Song of Fire and Ice series… I just felt horrible after reading the first book and didn’t feel enough connection to the characters to follow it up.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I slogged through all of A Song of Ice and Fire (or, you know, everything that’s been published). It doesn’t really improve. I appreciate the books as a deconstruction of fantasy tropes, but they are just not my thing.

        1. Rob Lowe can't read*

          I made it through everything that’s been published so far, but I started zoning out about halfway through A Feast for Crows and getting through A Dance with Dragons was torture. (I remembered so little from those two that when I heard Jon Snow died [or whatever] in the show, I was like, “Wait, did they make that up, or was it in the book?”) I don’t know that I’ll bother with the rest of the series, assuming it even gets published.

          1. Amadeo*

            I made it through everything except Dance With Dragons. And only made it through Feast for Crows because I had nothing else to read at the time. I can’t understand why people love them so much – I have no idea where, ultimately, the story seems to be going (it’s just kind of wandering around in a drunken stupor as far as I can tell) and everybody who seems important is dead. Or at least, almost everybody.

            I gave up a long time ago.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes! I love the HBO series but was left cold by the books. I’d be interested in hearing someone who loves the books talk about why. Is it for the same reasons people respond to the show or …?

              1. JaneB*

                I hate the books too – I read 1.5 as so many people I respect liked them, but they were just nasty, badly written life is brutal, sort of nasty bits from the history of medieval Europe without doing any actual historical research. And lousy characterisation, at least for my tastes.

              2. Oryx*

                Tyrion Lannister is the only reason I keep reading.

                I’m only half kidding there. For me, there are a certain handful of characters who keep me reading. Top ones would be Tyrion, Brienne, Cersei, and Arya. I was recommended the books by an ex when he saw me reading Tudor history books and thought I might like it and I do — the dynasty element is enthralling and I find a lot of callbacks to the Wars of the Roses and English history that I appreciate.

              3. Cath in Canada*

                I really enjoy the use of multiple narrators – hearing the story from different characters’ point of view, and really getting inside their heads in a way you don’t with the show, adds a lot to the story IMO. For example, Jaime isn’t a POV character until the third (or fourth?) book, and when he became a narrator, it completely changed the way I saw him, although I will never forgive him for Bran, obvs. (I know this happened on the show, too, but it was much more marked in the book). The same was true to a lesser extent when Cersei became a narrator – I’m not saying she became more relatable, but you do see where she’s coming from more than you do on TV.

                1. LawCat*

                  I agree with you. Jaime became my favorite character in the books not because I particularly like him (I’ll never forgive him for Bran either), but because the growth from seeing his point of view was excellent.

              4. Perse's Mom*

                I grew up reading fantasy novels where nobody important dies and magic is in your face fireballs and nobody ever has to pee and romance involves a one-true-love and the effects of combat or war on anybody but the primary characters is swept under the rug (and even the protagonists eventually just brush off any trauma).

                So when I read Game of Thrones and [spoiler for a 20yr old book and 7 yr old TV show] Ned dies at the end (he was set up as The Hero in any other fantasy story; I expected some kind of deus ex machina save)… it was fascinating. In the other fantasy books I’d read, his morality would somehow save him – instead, it condemns him because he foolishly trusts that others are also moral beings (despite having ample evidence to the contrary).

                It’s not that it felt ‘gritty’ or anything. It just felt… realistic. Actions have consequences. Sometimes actions we think of as positive (trusting people, wanting to see the best in them) have *disastrous* consequences.

                Politics is dirty, war is horrifying, people (even important, heroic, morally upstanding, wealthy people!) die. The smallfolk – the people usually ignored in other fantasy narratives – suffer and die on the page. Romance is a luxury that very few can afford (Ned and Cat are clearly fond of each other, but they’ve never been In Love; it was politics and duty for both of them). People make terrible decisions (SANSA) and those decisions have repercussions. The monsters (especially the human ones) often win *because* they combine ruthlessness with a lack of general morality.

                That said, Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons were both slogs to get through. I still love the first three books pretty unreservedly, though, and I am a fan of the TV series as well.

                1. Clever Name*

                  This is pretty much why I didn’t like the books. I read fantasy expressly to escape from reality. I read the newspaper to get reality. :)

              5. Lady Julian*

                I actually prefer the books. I think the characters are better developed, more nuanced. I also think (I saw this on a YouTube video once, but I can’t find the link now) that the books are thematically more complex. The show revels in its status as a bit of a bloodbath; the books show the drawbacks to violence as well; they complicate the situation and convey a wish for Peace. Plus, I think the books are better fantasy, with the more (and more mysterious) references to the Old Gods, and to Winter coming.

            2. Misc*

              I like the books, never really bothered with the show (I got bored both times I started watching and later heard far too much about the forced sexism and rape glorification to feel like rewarding that).

              A couple of biggish reasons I liked the books:

              1. The writing itself is good enough to draw you in quickly, which in my case I can tell because each character shift left me a) disappointed to leave the character I’d just invested in following, then very quickly b) equally invested in the new bit (and I admire his careful culling of viewpoint characters, so you don’t have too many per book, unlike certain other sprawling fantasy epics *coughwheeloftimecough*). If you don’t enjoy the writing style, it will never work for you, but it worked for me.

              2. The meta narrative was always pretty obviously ‘so this is a study of infighting that happens between established rulers’ and there was always going to be lots and lots of back and forth alliances and sudden shifts in fortune. It’s like putting a magnifying glass on history – you can always get in closer, and find ever more detailed stories, but most books simplify/pull out a bit to follow the overall narrative (King dies, pretender shows up, real heir shows up, day is saved), whereas Game of Thrones is a *study* of the detail, following very different characters at different ‘levels’ (e.g. royalty and peasantry, the impact of local politics on something elsewhere, the way people’s lives can just keep going without being affected by supposedly important news). Given I’m familiar with Tudor history & the War of the Roses it was interesting to watch how that was translated into fantasy (like the wall literally being… well, Hadrian’s Wall), and I was forewarned by that not to invest specifically in any particular character (I have a theory about the end game, which means there’s a lot of localised shuffling that *ultimately* won’t matter much, it’s backdrop for the endgame characters’ evolutions and positioning). I like the realism/consequences thing, magically immune/perfect heroes are always annoying. And there are some characters in there who are looking pretty darn safe to invest in following, given the way their character growth is being set up.

              It is starting to sprawl a bit, and there’s a limit to how far you can push ‘so isn’t this random brawling that ends up with everyone back in the default positions *interesting*’, but so far, he’s mostly kept things flowing in the same overall direction (it’s a river that’s hit a bunch of sandbanks and spread out everywhere. We followed one stream into the river along with the Starks, and now it’s a big sprawling collection of rivulets that are slowly collapsing back into each other and all heading the same way).

              1. acmx*

                “I like the books, never really bothered with the show (I got bored both times I started watching and later heard far too much about the forced sexism and rape glorification to feel like rewarding that). ”
                I never had interest in the show because 20 years after reading the GoT what I remembered was just murder, rape and incest.

        2. Overeducated*

          I slogged through 2.5 of those books before giving up hope about the threads starting to converge. They are so bloated and in need of a ruthless editor. Also none of the characters likeable – the closest they come is “pitiful” and/or “not evil,” which was not enough for me to care what happened to them.

          I guess I am still annoyed I read 2500 pages :p

    12. Sherm*

      I couldn’t finish “East of Eden” or “Catch 22.” Maybe I’ll give them another shot. With “Catch 22” I just felt like “Okay, I got it already!” and not in a good way.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I never finished Catch-22 either – I started it in high school but for some reason or another, finishing it dropped on my priority list and I ended up abandoning it. I might have made it through the first third of the book?

        It is, however, the #1 book that I claim to have read without actually having finished. People are like, “Oh, it’s like in Catch-22, blah blah blah,” and I’m like, “Yes, I have read that book and know exactly what you are talking about.” So now you know my secret.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        Having to read East of Eden in high school was torture. I don’t care how many people tell me Steinbeck is one of the greatest American writers, I absolutely loathe his books.

        I also still carry a grudge against East of Eden because that was the only English/Literature test I ever scored poorly on because the test asked about Bible imagery and comparisons and as someone who isn’t Christian, I had no idea what they were. Fun times. I made such a stink about it that the school eventually had to hand out “religious imagery” cheat sheets for any book with major religious themes (and that’s a lot of classic lit) so those of us who weren’t Christian knew what was going on.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        In high school, I got several pages into The Bell Jar and said, “I’m done here.”

        I try to read/scan the first few pages of whatever I bring home now. If the story does not grab me, then it does not come home with me. I can usually get interested pretty fast so when I don’t it’s kind of telling.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve never read East of Eden–we got The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men (that is one of my favorites). I have most of the books we read in school in my library. The ones I could not stomach were:

        –Great Expectations (I like Dickens, but not that book. The only good part was where Miss Havisham caught on fire).
        –Cry the Beloved Country (I tried but was bored stiff)
        –The Great Gatsby (not so great)
        –Brave New World (nope)

        We didn’t get Catch-22 either. We got A Separate Peace (love it), and Lord of the Flies (Yassss!). Oh yeah, and both Orwell books (1984; Animal Farm). And To Kill a Mockingbird. We did not get The Catcher in the Rye because it has the F word in it, but my teacher loaned it to me, heh heh.

        1. JessaB*

          OMG High School required reading: If I never see a copy of the Old Man and the Sea again it’ll be too soon. I despise that book.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            Literature is so important, but I’m starting to think that it’s wasted on high-school students. I’m re-reading some books I hated back in high school, and they are SO different now that I have the perspective of an adult who has had to cope with financial challenges, work problems, family drama, and so on. It’s tough to appreciate some themes when your life experience gives you no connection to them at all.

            1. LadyKelvin*

              I feel that way too. I’ve gone back and re-read many of the books I read in high school and they have become my favorite books, partly because 10 years later I have finally experienced enough of real life to actually relate to the problems the characters are facing or appreciate the point of the book. I didn’t enjoy Pride and Prejudice until I understood Jane Austen’s life and why she wrote books the way she did. Now they are the books I read before I fall asleep because I won’t get drawn in and stay up all night.

        2. MarianCSRA*

          I couldn’t stand Lord of the Flies. But I loved The Scarlet Letter and Alas Babylon. A Separate Peace was pretty good too.

        3. Marillenbaum*

          I hate, hate, HATE “The Great Gatsby”, and I judge anyone who tells me it’s their favorite book. It’s terrible.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          Every year from fifth grade through twelfth grade we had to read:
          A Separate Peace
          Death be not Proud
          Deathman do not Follow Me

          If I never see these books again, it will be a day too soon. Why, every year for seven years. Why. Why.

        5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Oh god, Dickens. Seriously I have never made it more than halfway through one of his books. I have a vague recollection of GE in high school though.. maybe they did make us read it.

          I read Orwell in elementary school (mom handed me Animal Farm when I was 8 or something), but I really love On the Road to Wigan Pier. Keep the Aspidistra Flying is ok once… the second time I read it I wanted to punch Gordon in the face for his stupidity and to just stop moaning, get over his principles, and get a goddamn real job already!

          I have never made it past the first two chapters of the first Narnia, or LOTR. And I love me some JG Ballard but got bored of Crash in the end.

      5. Cath in Canada*

        I love Steinbeck (Cannery Row is my all-time favourite book), but starting with East of Eden would have put me off for sure. It has some great parts to it, but it’s a slog and all the religious theory / bible translation stuff left me cold.

      6. Artemesia*

        It was one of my favorite books as a kid — it seemed so ‘true’ like Catcher in the Rye was for other kids. Catch 22 is the best metaphor for most of the horrible stories of horrible organizations we read right here at AMA that I can think of.

        1. Windchime*

          I hated Catcher in the Rye. I tried it in high school where it was required reading and it just seemed so foul and full of cursing that I couldn’t make sense of it. (And I love a good f-bomb but for some reason, that book left me cold). I finally told the teacher that I just couldn’t do it and he assigned me to read “Walden” instead. Loved it.

    13. Amy*

      I love Margaret Atwood but I just can’t get into “The Blind Assassin,” which won the Booker Prize and seems like one of her most popular novels. I’ve started it several times but it’s so confusing with the multiple timelines and whatnot that I get bogged down and quit.

      On a somewhat related note, I am beyond stoked for Hulu’s adaptation of the Handmaid’s Tale coming out in April. Elizabeth Moss! Samira Wiley!

      1. Oryx*

        I’m a huge Atwood fan (as if the name doesn’t give it away) and I like The Blind Assassin but, yeah, it took me a couple of reads to really understand what was happening with all the jumping around.

        1. Mockingjay*

          I couldn’t get into Oryx and Drake. I stopped after about 50 pages, and it was a 3-day slog to do that. Not sure why it didn’t grab me.

          I did read the Handmaid’s Tale and recommended that one to my book club.

            1. Marillenbaum*

              I would read that blog, though. It would be a mashup of Atwood prose and Drake lyrics with screenshots from his music videos.

      2. Artemesia*

        Me too — I have checked it out of the library on my Nook twice and not finished it (which makes me feel bad because libraries only get X number of loans on an Ebook and so I feel bad when I check one out and don’t finish them.

        1. Oryx*

          The ebook library industry has changed tremendously over the years and only a handful of publishers still do the X Number of Loans things. Most treat them like physical books, one copy in the the hands of one user at a time and they don’t expire, staying in their collection forever.

      3. Lemon Zinger*

        I am SO excited for the Hulu series! The movie with Natasha Richardson (RIP) was good, but I feel like the TV series will be better.

    14. all aboard the anon train*

      Gone Girl. It was a struggle to get through and I rolled my eyes so much throughout the book. Also, I thought the “twist” everyone was surprised by was pretty obvious.

      The Hunger Games. It just felt like lazy writing. I think I would have liked it if I was a teenager when it came out, but I was in college by then, so no go. I know without a doubt that I wouldn’t have liked Harry Potter if I had read it as an adult because it’s also pretty bad writing, but I loved it as a kid.

      The next two books are books I enjoy, but popular opinion claims they’re the best or most loved works the authors wrote and I disagree and think they’re the weakest: 1. Pride and Prejudice; 2. Romeo & Juliet. They’re not bad, but they’re definitely not the strongest stories or writing from either author.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Gone Girl is one of those cases where the movie really is better than the book. I tried reading it and couldn’t get into it, but decided to see the movie because I like Rosamund Pike, and it was incredible.

        1. Lore*

          Having read and enjoyed the book, I felt just the opposite! I thought the movie was glum and too dark (literally, not emotionally), in a way that foreshadowed the twist too heavy-handedly. Maybe this is one of those situations where the two forms appeal to entirely different taste?

        2. Pat Benetardis*

          Agreed, I disliked the book but liked the movie. Girl on the train was similar (many friends liked it but I hated), but in this case the movie was also mediocre.

          1. LS*

            Girl on a Train – yes! I finished it but was sooo underwhelmed. Ditto the (unbelievably annoying) 100 year old man…

            1. Chocolate Teapot*

              I was going to say Girl on the Train as well.

              Mind you, it had the advantage of me thinking to myself “This is drivel. I could write better than this” which has given me the push to write something.

      2. JessaB*

        Hunger Games bugged the heck out of me because of the ending, in Dystopian fic I want the protagonist to end well and it looked to me like Katniss at the end got stuck with what they wanted her to do and had really not improved her happiness/position at all from the beginning. She was still stuck subservient to what others wanted.

      3. Lemon Zinger*

        I was just a smidge too old to get into The Hunger Games, or at least my taste in writing was a little more defined than my peers’. I never tried to read the books, but I watched the first movie and was really unimpressed.

        1. Kinsley M.*

          The Hunger Games was good in Book 1 and Book 2. I almost feel like someone completely different wrote Book 3. Katniss was no longer this awesome badass. She complained, and she whined, and always just felt bad for herself instead of really doing anything about it. And then when [Spoiler] Primrose dies, I literally threw the book across the room. What was the point of the entire series? Literally everything happened for nothing.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            I thought the Book 1 premise was awesome. Apparently so did the writer/publisher because the next two were shoehorned into the exact same formula.

          2. Clumsy Ninja*

            I agree! Loved books 1-2, took forever to slog through book 3 because it was just so bad.

    15. Marillenbaum*

      I felt like such a failure for not loving Elena Ferrante! So many of my friends love her work, but it leaves me utterly cold. I’m adoring A Gentleman in Moscow, though.

    16. Lore*

      My all time top contenders in this category are “The Emperor’s Children” by Claire Messud and “The Virgin Suicides” by Jeffrey Eugenides. More recently, I loathed “Maestra” by LS Hilton even though suspense/thrillers set in the art world are generally my cup of tea.

        1. C Average*

          Yeah, The Emperor’s Children sucked. Sorry, Claire Messud, I’ll never read anything by you again, because I’m still bitter about getting all the way through that book and never getting any payoff for my effort. I can’t even remember HOW it ended. I just remember being, like, “That’s it? Well, at least it’s over.”

      1. Marillenbaum*

        God, I hate Eugenides with the red hot intensity of a thousand suns. The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex…utter garbage. Worse, self-indulgent, self-satisfied garbage. I will never read his work again.

      2. MarianCSRA*

        I’ve only read The Marriage Plot by Eugenides. I wasn’t impressed. Probably won’t be reading anything else by him.

        1. Lore*

          Someone gave me that because I was at Brown in roughly the same time period and I’d probably find amusing as a portrait of that very specific time and place but I can’t get over how much I hated “Virgin Suicides.”

    17. Hattie McDoogal*

      John Scalzi’s Redshirts, even though I generally like Scalzi and my husband liked the book a lot.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I like much of Shakespeare but I can’t stand Romeo and Juliet. I liked it as a high schooler–however, when I grew up, I just found the characters idiotic. I trashed it in my college Shakespeare class think piece, haha. Dickens can be dull, but A Christmas Carol is scary AF.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Hahaha maybe it thinks we’re talking about it? ;)

              Funny aside–when I was a kid and reading B.C. comics (which were mostly way over my head), I used to think that word was pronounced eye-die-oat. >_<

              1. EmmaLou*

                How many words I’ve been shocked to hear the correct pronunciations of in RL. In my head, they sounded nothing like that.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I was put off Dickens by trying to read A Christmas Carol when I was waaaay too young for it, but I picked up Great Expectations on a whim a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I try to read one Dickens a year now. A Tale of Two Cities is my favourite so far!

          1. Chaordic One*

            I like Dickens more now, than I did when I was in high school. (He is a bit wordy, isn’t he?) The style of writing is a bit archaic with too much irrelevant detail. Makes me think that maybe Reader’s Digest should come out with a condensed version (if they haven’t already).

        2. JessaB*

          I don’t mind it, I just can’t stand how so many people think it’s all romantic and all. They’re two stupid children who get into a mess that causes a lot of people major headaches and DEATH.

        3. neverjaunty*

          Can’t. Stand. Dickens.

          Shakespeare is great, though. Except I am apparently the only one who dislikes Hamlet.

        4. DragoCucina*

          I agree with Romeo and Juliet. I am genuinely creeped out by the iPhone7 commercial with children acting out R&J. It’s a story about obsession, suicide, and murder.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            I know what you mean. I saw the advert and thought “Aren’t they a bit too young for this?”

      2. Artemesia*

        I love Shakespeare — not always the play — but often — and always the language. The guy wrote most of our cliches back when of course they weren’t cliches. I like to re read Hamlet from time to time just for the pure magic of the prose.

        1. jamlady*


          I re-read Much Ado About Nothing every couple of years, though I don’t know why I love that one so much. Something about the humor to it. It’s familiar lol

          “I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.”

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, reading Shakespeare is a bore (to me). But watching and listening is a totally different thing.

      3. Scarecrow*

        +1 on both. For Shakespeare, I agree with what you said already and simply can’t stand the crude humor either.

      1. EmmaLou*

        Oh and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. At first I liked it but it just got creepier and creepier for me. I am alone apparently in thinking his treatment of women was … creepy.

        1. Becky*

          You are not alone with this. I finished the series because it felt like I’d already gotten 70 of the 100 books in that series (I exaggerate some) so I might as well, but I felt exactly the same, that Jordan really, really had some hard-wired fetishes.

      2. MarianCSRA*

        I like some things by James (The Portrait of a Lady, Washington Square), but not others (The Ambassadors). I had an English professor that had absolutely no use for Daisy Miller whatsoever, but then, he’s the one that made us read The Ambassadors. I’ve read Daisy Miller, but I can’t really remember much about it.

    18. Josie*

      Jo Nesbo’s crime novels. His writing just doesn’t grab me, and I think I have anti-hero cop fatigue.

    19. Undine*

      Great Gatsby, pretty much anything by Hemingway (“moral judgment without moral imagination). The Color Purple. Time Traveler’s Wife. I have trouble with a lot of recent novels, because I’ve read so much, and so it’s hard to get excited, even by books that I look at and think they should be good.

      1. Lily Evans*

        I could never stand Hemingway. I used to tell my college friends that if I ever had to read Hills Like White Elephants one more time I’d change majors. Throughout high school and college I read it in either four or five different classes. Including a fiction writing class, which was supposed to be my fun class.

      2. Jenna*

        Me too with Time Travelers Wife! I was sure I would LOVE it, but couldn’t get past the first few pages. I took it back to the library. Several months later I tried again, same thing happened. One of these days I’ll give it another go. The first time I read The 100 Yr Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window….., I hated it and put it down after 10 pages. Then one day I was desperate for something to read, so I pushed through- and I ended up loving it!

    20. animaniactoo*

      The Thomas Covenant books by Stephen R Donaldson.

      I kept reading waiting for them to get better, but they didn’t and they were the books that eventually broke me of my need to finish a book that I’d started reading. I couldn’t stand the main character, I wanted to kill him myself just to make it all end.

      Interestingly, he also wrote the best series I have ever written… The Gap Cycle. Complex, beautifully written and developed in a very raw and human kind of way, and purposely written so that by the end the heroes had been shown to be villians and the villians had become heroes.

      1. neverjaunty*

        The writing itself gets better, but the main character never stops being horrible and whiny, so you made a good decision.

        1. JaneB*

          YESSSSSSS! Cannot stand those books even though it made me something of s high school outcast for a few months…

      2. Franzia Spritzer*

        I was just talking with Spouse about the Thomas Covenant Books this morning, my mom loved them and the just fell flat for me. I described them to Spouse as a ‘Gravel Path’ journey book that’re just boring. I read them when I was 10 and tried again when my reading skills and tastes had developed and I still hated them. I generally like a good adventure story, but his internal dialogue was too whiny and self pitying (for my taste) rather than reflective.

        1. animaniactoo*

          I feel so loved and understood right now. The incessant self-pity and whining and decisions/actions based on it frustrated me to no end.

    21. Stephanie*

      The New Jim Crow, which surprised me. That type of book is usually up my alley, but I had trouble getting into it for some reason.

      Anything Hemingway. The Virgin Suicides.

      1. C Average*

        I’ve been struggling with The New Jim Crow as well. I gave up on Hemingway long ago. I’ll bet I’ve tried to slog through For Whom The Bell Tolls no less than a dozen times.

        1. Stephanie*

          Tried the Sun Also Rises. It sounded so exciting from the blurb….and just no. Tried another one (I think The Old Man and the Sea) and just accepted I didn’t like his writing style. It’s funny because his books are usually so short, but I can’t even summon the energy to get through like 120 pages.

        2. Windchime*

          That’s how I feel about Anna Karenina. I get to a certain point and then I just do not care anymore and I quit.

          1. Stephanie*

            I read that one way too young out of a sense of pride. My middle school did accelerated reader and think that was the hardest book our library had. I think I understood half of it? It was a slog. I debate whether to revisit it. Tried rereading some as an adult and couldn’t get into it.

            1. C Average*

              I lovd Anna Karenina. I first read it in high school and wasn’t sure what to make of it; it was the first book I’d ever read that contained no characters I felt inclined to root for or particularly identified with. I didn’t find them unlikable precisely, but I didn’t find any of them completely sympathetic, and many of them downright enraged me at times. I think it was my first experience with truly complicated fictional characters.

              A good friend of mine read it at the same time and we talked about it a lot. Last year, I road-tripped across the country with her and we took turns reading it aloud to each other while the other one drove. We so enjoyed it! We’d missed so many nuances as teenagers, and we found revisiting it a pure pleasure.

              Of course, your mileage may vary. I must confess that I did love The Sun Also Rises, despite not much caring for most of the other Hemingway I’ve read or attempted to read.

    22. neverjaunty*

      Anything by James Ellroy. He’s supposed to be this awesome noir writer and his writing style drives me straight up a tree. I can’t even get through a chapter.

      1. LCL*

        Same here. Also Carl Hiassen. I tried one book, where the bad guys only redeeming quality was he liked animals. And that was used against him in a scam involving a road kill dog. Don’t know it ended because I couldn’t finish the book.

    23. C Average*

      I read all the Elena Ferrante books and I still don’t understand why they’re supposed to be great, and I kind of wish I had all those hours of my life back.

      I’ve had Heart of Darknessassigned to me in various classes no less than a half-dozen times, and I’ve tried to revisit it in my post-student days, and it’s not all that long, and I really enjoyed Apocalypse Now, on which it’s based, but I just cannot.

      I also cannot finish Walden because it is the most boring book in the world, and no one can persuade me otherwise.

      1. C Average*

        Oh, and Middlemarch. So. Very. Boring. (I finally skimmed all the way to the end, and nothing interesting ever DOES happen. It’s spoiler-proof.)

        1. hermit crab*

          That’s funny — I loved Middlemarch and I usually hate that kind of book (I just posted below on how I don’t like Pride and Prejudice). It’s not a barn-burner or anything but the depiction of the interweaving relationships and inner lives of the characters is just so well done.

        2. Marillenbaum*

          Sadness! Middlemarch is one of my favorite books; it’s small and gentle and not a ton happens, but as an examination of ordinary life in a small town, and the inner lives of people who want to be Great but are really fairly average, it spoke to me. It was the best thing I got out of sophomore year Brit Lit.

          1. C Average*

            I know so many people whose taste I admire who love that book! And I’ve read so many reviews of it that make it seem like a book I should find compelling. But it just utterly bores me senseless. I can’t find anything to love about it at all.

    24. hermit crab*

      I can’t stand Pride and Prejudice! I’ve read it two or three times hoping that whatever else everyone sees in it would come through, but no. I am like, okay, ladies and gentlemen, if you stopped your endless walking around your gardens and just shut up for a minute, you would have all been married by now and it would be fine.

        1. hermit crab*

          Haha, I’m glad I’m not alone! I kinda feel like I am missing out on this cultural touchstone for my demographic (nerdy/bookish 30ish women) but yeah, it’s just not happening for me!

      1. Sorgatani*

        I had to study Pride and Prejudice in either Yr 11 or 12 of high school, and was not a fan. The teacher raved about it, but I didn’t enjoy it. I think the problem was that so many people were trying to sell me on the romance factor and I just wasn’t seeing it – they could’ve gotten married halfway through the book and not bothered having a book. That was my opinion at the time. The text left in all of Austen’s original spelling mistakes, which annoyed my grammar sensibilities. I don’t remember all of them now, but ‘freind’ instead of ‘friend’ stood out.
        I tried reading ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ a decade later, and the zombies almost made it readable, but I could tell it was still P&P under the surface.
        I did revisit P&P in audiobook form either in 2015 or early 2016, and was surprised to find I didn’t mind it as much. Something in my brain clicked into treating it as social commentary instead of romance this time. The characters made more of an impression that way, and I have to admit that I’ve met a few people who feel like modern day versions of certain P&P characters.

        1. Undine*

          The interesting part of P&P for me has never been the romance, but the whole social posturing and cattiness. Mr. Collins, and the story of Lydia, I think the modern tendency to think of Austen as essentially “chick lit” does her no favors.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            ” . . . the whole social posturing and cattiness.”

            This is what I like about such books, as well. Some of the put-downs would go right over the heads of people in our more direct culture. It reminds me of old southern lady gossip, where the insults are hidden between the lines.

        2. AliceBD*

          When I was trying to read it in about 8th grade and finding it boring but still wanted to read it, my mom told me to read it as if she was making fun of everyone. All of a sudden it was hysterical, and I still find it very funny. I think it’s a shame it’s been sold so much as a romance nowadays instead of humor.

      2. thehighercommonsense*

        Pride and Prejudice is basically “two jerks get married”, which can be hard to take. As I got older, I found I liked “Persuasion” and “Mansfield Park” the best, but on the other hand, some folks just never get in to it at all.

    25. DragoCucina*

      Dan Brown. The only book I remotely liked was Angels and Demons. When The DaVinci Code was HUGE it was my first DB book. I kept stopping and shouting, ‘It’s XYZ, catch-up Robert.’ When I picked up Angels and Demons the poor clerk asked how much I loved the Code. She was flabbergasted when I started listing the historical and geographical errors.

      My oldest son is the same. We were both reading The Lost Symbol. He asked me why the Harvard professor didn’t get the reference to Albrecht Durer.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        I’m really displeased with how the Dan Brown books have gotten really formulaic and/or too long. Angels and Demons was great, Da Vinci Code was okay, and The Lost Symbol was really hard to get through. I never made it more than 1/3 of the way through Inferno… and I was in Florence at the time! It was just dull.

        So disappointing. Even Tom Hanks couldn’t make the movies any good.

        1. DragoCucina*

          I’ve found it amusing that Brown’s character’s gain access to so many super special locations. Ones that I’ve been in more than once. Such as the Scavi. Write, get a reservation, pick up your tickets, and take a really great tour. From A&D you’d think its a secret.

      2. LS*

        I hated The Da Vinci Code and didn’t bother with any of the others. It really bothered me that this undeserving series became so popular.

    26. Liane*

      Dune. ANY Dune books.

      I read the first & second because SF fans are *Supposed* to read (and apparently revere) Dune. And it had some good stuff but overall they were meh at best, so didn’t read the rest. That taught me way back in high school to be wary of people, media, etc. telling me what I Ought, Should, or was Supposed To like.
      I was clearly the correct decision, when a college acquaintance gave me the following review of the 4th or 5th book in the series, Chapterhouse Dune: “I read the first chapter, threw it against the wall and then returned it.”

      1. Franzia Spritzer*

        Chapterhouse was a TERRIBLE book, when I was asked about it I said I’d rather read his brainstorming notes, this book was created to be a good doorstop.

    27. Franzia Spritzer*

      American Gods by Neil Gaiman, meh. I have really smart well read friends who just absolutely gushed over this book, after reading it I wondered about their internal lives and wished for them to have more challenging and rich imaginations.

      The next one is very snooty-snooty-film-snob specific, I am an animator / filmmaker (experimental), I spend a lot of time watching films well outside of mass market cinema, and read quite a bit of criticism, theory and reflective writings on process. Reading about why ol’ kookster made a weirdo film is always interesting to me, I’m particularly interested in what was happening in the world (politically) when they’re in production, often this reading reveals a lot of depth to a film that helps shape it’s meaning. That said, my peers LOVE, On the Camera Arts and Consecutive Matters: The Writings of Hollis Frampton, but it annoyed me so much I grew to hate the author and his films. He tries to assert himself as a mathematician, to other filmmakers this may work, but if you’re mathy his attempt at mathiness falls flat. He tries to assert himself as a poet but it only serves to project an entitled, self aggrandizing air of importance, ugh, tedious. Moreover, Hollis Frampton isn’t exactly the most famous of the avant garde, he was, however, so prolific he couldn’t be ignored, which is annoying all by itself. I suppose knowing why I hate this book so much will be a growth opportunity… ugh!

      Also, Wild, Cheryl Strayed. There I said it. It’s sweet and makes it’s point… over and over and over again.

    28. Elsajeni*

      Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean. I clearly should like Tam Lin! It’s like it was written specifically to appeal to me! And yet I hated it! (A theory from one of my friends: I read it too late, when I was already in college as an insufferable English major. “Insufferable English major” is the right category of person to enjoy the book, but you’ve got to be a future one; once you’re in college, you will recognize all the characters as the most annoying person in your Myth & Folklore class, so it’s too late.)

    29. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Game of Thrones. Just couldn’t get into it. Same with Wheel of Time. Yet I’m normally a huge fantasy/scifi nerd.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have mentioned Georgette Heyer on here in the past. Sorry, but I don’t get that a man declaring undying love after describing the (much younger) object of his affections as a brat, is going to mean a happy ending.

        The other books I find annoying are those where the heroine is either unemployed or in a poorly paid job, and all of sudden manages to pen a bestseller as a result of her connections to a friend who just happens to work in publishing.

      1. Clever Name*

        Yeah, I was pretty meh about that book. I read the first two because someone gave them to me. It really bothered me that Lisbeth is supposed to be the heroine of the series, yer she only appeared in about a third of the second book. They’re told largely from the perspective of the bro-y journalist who has a married fuckbuddy. Just no.

    30. LadyKelvin*

      The Divergent Series. The first on was ok, and it would have been a good book if there weren’t two more. But the last book especially was awful and I thought it ended in the most pointless way. I feel the same way about the Maze Runner. I was along for the ride (although not loving it) until the end of the first book and then “completely pointless twist so I can write another one”. I made it about a chapter into the second one and gave up. I think it’s the first book I’ve ever quit reading, I’m a finisher and once I start something I need to finish it.

      Also, the Sound and the Fury and Moby Dick was awful. If they had cut out all the chapters about the natural biology of whales it might have been passable, but as someone who studies marine mammals, it was torture. The Twilight series, even though I was the right age to appreciate it. Who puts chapters of blank pages into a book and calls it a novel. And I hate Ernest Hemingway with a passion. I have a few of his books on my list because I feel uneducated that I haven’t read ones like The Sun Also Rises, but they won’t be pleasant to read.

      1. C Average*

        Oh, gosh. Yes to everything you just said about the Divergent series. The second and third books were total incoherent hot messes.

    31. Windchime*

      Harry Potter books. Just tried again for the second time and I don’t care for them a bit.

    32. Sarah G*

      – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (kind of got into it, esp the stuff in Prague since I’ve lived there, but ultimately just never got truly absorbed and eventually gave up 150 pp in or so.
      – Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. OMG could NOT get into this one at all.

  17. De Minimis*

    Anyone have any tips on dealing with holiday depression [and overall depression?]

    Just not into anything this year at all. Some of it is probably job related, but not all of it. I’m not really interested in medication [have tried it before and it takes too much of a toll on me.] I’ve tried to exercise more and get outside, but it’s really hard. I don’t really enjoy most of the things I used to like doing.


    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure if it’s depression or just lulls that I am experiencing. Whatever it is it’s not fun.
      This year’s idea is to have projects lined up and do the projects. My main goal is the french doors I mentioned earlier but I have to do a few things before I can do the doors. The best holiday I have had in recent years involved a project that come into reality in February. I spent several months working on it. I really enjoyed it.

      1. JessaB*

        I curl up with my cat. Parker occasionally tolerates me when she can feel how badly depressed I am. She climbs on me and whaps me in the face with her head. I agree with people talking about lights. I turn on a LOT of lights when it’s dark and it does help some. I’m looking into those SAD lamps some people recommend. I’ve never tried that.

    2. bunniferous*

      Get into as much sunlight as you can. Fish oil tablets are also good. And I know you said it was hard to exercise but simply walking (outside, for sun) really works well. Also, vitamin B complex is important for mood too.

      If you drink alcohol, maybe cut back or cut off for a bit.

      I have done all of the above and it has helped.

      Finally, one thing I do is try to focus on things that are good in my life. There is so much negativity in the world, but paying attention to the good reboots my brain.

      Hope you feel better soon. Depression sucks.

    3. Schmitt*

      Have you had bloodwork done? I’m now supplementing with vitamin D and Omega 3 and – along with a new job – it’s made all the difference for me.

    4. Alston*

      I have a SAD light lamp and it does wonders for my mood and energy. Making sure I have vitamins and drink lots of tea helps as well

    5. Charlie Q*

      One thing that has helped me is disengaging the ideas of “being outside” and “being active.” Yes, it’s good to go for walks and hikes and runs and play Frisbee in the park and etc etc etc. But when I’m in a low swing of my depression, that’s impossible to consider. What I can do is sit outside in the sun for 15 minutes. No obligation to be active. Just outside. The sun feels good, and I know I’m at least getting my vitamin D (a lack of which can add to fatigue). It’s a little thing, but it’s good.

      1. De Minimis*

        I know I do have a vitamin D deficiency. I don’t think that’s the only thing going on, but it certainly can help if I start taking supplements again. I’ve found that even if I’m outdoors a lot it doesn’t seem to help that much with my D levels.

        I’m not sure about my alcohol consumption. I don’t feel like I’m a heavy drinker, but maybe I am, or maybe I should just stop for a while. I basically have 1-2 beers [though they tend to be higher alcohol so they probably are equivalent to 3-4 “drinks”] a couple of times a week. My wife has thought it might be alcohol related. I’m not sure since I think my alcohol usage has been about the same even when I was feeling better. But I’m probably not the best one to judge.

        One big goal for 2017 is to find a new job by the end of the year. I think the uncertainly of everything that entails might be part of it too [it may end up involving yet another move, which I’m dreading….]

        1. Charlie Q*

          It’s worth noting that your geographical latitude can impact how much vitamin D you can actually absorb by being outside. So supplements are good. I took them for awhile after spending a semester in Paris, which pulled me down into a deficiency.

        2. TL -*

          If your vitamin D is chronically low, supplement. Stopping drinking will probably help (alcohol is a downer) – and if it gets really bad, asking about medication (and saying what didn’t work for you last time) might be worth it, if you talk to a psychiatrist. If it’s been a while, there are probably more meds on the market.

        3. No Name Yet*

          Something to think about with the alcohol is that what is a fine amount for you when your mood is okay may not be fine when you’re depressed – I’ve seen plenty of people where the depressant effect of alcohol didn’t kick in until they started getting depressed for unrelated reasons.

          Also definitely agree with everyone else’s suggestions, too. Getting moving (physically, emotionally) when you’re depressed is really tough, so focusing on taking whatever baby steps you can in a healthy direction.

    6. Christy*

      Things that have really helped me with my anxiety (other than medication, which I really love): CBT therapy, daily exercise, yoga, healthy eating.

      In terms of exercise, it really helps me to act as if it’s a requirement to do 30 minutes of cardio every day. If I don’t have any option, I have to do it. Then I can do other stuff, like lift heavy weights or go to yoga. Running and then a light yoga class is a GREAT way to spend an evening.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Welllll…I don’t know about zero crazy, but the crazy here is pretty much always fun, rather than disconcerting! ;D

    8. Turanga Leela*

      Do you have a therapist you like? Talk therapy can be great (and there are all different kinds, so shop around for a therapist who is a good fit if your current one isn’t—I know a ton of people who have stayed with mediocre therapists for too long).

      Also, have you tried different types of antidepressants? A good psychiatrist or psychopharmacologist might be able to recommend a different drug or dosage. Ignore this suggestion if you’ve been down this route, of course.

      1. NoMoreMrFixit*

        Therapy worked better for me than the meds. To the point I no longer need either. Can’t stress the idea strongly enough to find a good therapist you click with.

        Hobbies and friends/family are crucial. Set aside “me” time for the things you are passionate about and indulge yourself.

        1. De Minimis*

          I have not tried therapy for a few years [tried one a few years ago but it was terrible.] I don’t know if I could fit it into my schedule these days. In the past therapy has been more like just talking things out with someone and not really solving anything. I did lean on therapy a lot in my college years and during my 20s, but not sure how much it really helped.

          Nothing against medications, but I don’t think they are the right solution for me, at least not right now. j

          Thanks for the advice…some of it is I am not passionate about much these days. Nothing seems good.

          1. Reba*

            Hey De Minimis, your comment “I am not passionate about much these days. Nothing seems good” stood out to me and reminded me of a concept I recently read about, the “funnel of exhaustion.” The idea is that when feeling tired or depleted, we often give up on activities that seem non-essential but that actually nourish us (because what’s the point, or nothing ever comes of [trying to see friends, starting a new project, whatever]). Our lives grow narrower in the “funnel” as we are left doing only the ‘essential’ things such as work and other tasks that may be stressful, so more likely to experience exhaustion and burnout. If you feel convinced that you’re no good or that there’s no point to things, how likely are you to pursue the things that you value in life?

            I think there are lots of different ways to try to break out of these kinds of thinking ruts, or to try to sidestep ruminating or low moods. I hope you will give something a try that can help ‘widen’ your path a little bit.

    9. Chaordic One*

      With holidays, I think you need to change your way of thinking about them. People have unrealistic expectations about them and they are not helped by Christmas movies in general and Hallmark movies in particular. Try to think about them as being just another ordinary day.

      Cut yourself some slack about the cards that didn’t get written, things that didn’t get decorated, the wrong presents or your family members who are acting like jerks.

      And yeah, stay away from alcohol, rich food, too much sugar and just too much of anything. Make taking care of yourself you priority.

    10. Misc*

      Have you looked into tryptophan? It’s supposed to be behind an enormous amount of depression, especially in women (they have significantly lower levels by default), and can be hard to get from your diet, and even harder to get from your stomach into your brain where it can actually do some emotional good. It’s also (one reason) why Vitamin D deficiency is a problem – Vit D is required to turn tryptophan into serotonin + melatonin. I just discovered. The hard way.

      I’ve been on tryptophan supplements for a few months now, and they’ve been amazing, literally flipped me from a depressive insomniac to … mostly normal. And reduced my ridiculous pain sensitivity!

      Of course, then I stopped getting sunlight and ended up massively Vit D deficient (chronic fatigue, constant illness, and massive escalation in insomnia and depression), couldn’t figure out why my tryptophan had stopped working, went out in the sunlight for a few hours, and my sleep literally fixed itself overnight and my health has been steadily improving :D So just taking the pills isn’t always enough… (exercise improves tryptophan uptake into the brain, incidentally, which is one of the reasons it’s supposed to help with depression. Doesn’t help if there’s no tryptophan to uptake…)

    11. JDLucky*

      Depression sucks. I was where you are at last February. It felt like seeing the world full of sunshine and wanting to be in it but you can’t step out of the shadows. I went to my doctor. She had several suggestions because I was also hesitant to use prescription medication. She suggested exercise, a vitamin called Sam-E, doing something artistic like taking a class out, get an adult coloring book and for at least 10 minutes a day color, stop drinking any alcohol and talk to a recommended councilor. I finished seeing my councilor back in October. I’m doing so much better now but do mental checks for myself. If you can afford it, talk to your doctor. Make sure that everything is okay physically and then see what they suggest. My doctor was super supportive of whatever I was willing to do in order to get better.

  18. BrownEyedGirl*

    I just submitted my application for an MFA program. It’s a great school only 45 minutes from my house with a fully funded program… and it’s making me depressed, which is driving my husband crazy. He thinks I should be excited, but I just think that I’m setting myself up for failure. Under other circumstances I’d apply to 10 programs and go to the best one that took me, but I can’t move because of my husband’s job and the low-res programs don’t have funding. Combine that with a 2% acceptance rate and the fact that I write genre fiction not ‘literary’ fiction and it feels like I’m setting myself up for failure.

    Like I just paid $75 to get rejected, and you want me to be excited?

    1. Celestial navigation*

      Could you reframe it mentally a s an application for job? When I apply for anything professional, I’ve learned to forget about it as soon as I send in the app. Then I’m pleasantly surprised when I’m accepted, and it’s disappointing but not crushing when I’m rejected. I think the anticipation of hearing back can be just overwhelming.

      1. BrownEyedGirl*

        But I guess that just proves my point. When I’m applying for jobs I cast a wide net, but this is the narrowest possible net (my analogy isn’t working, I’m a cruddy writer… scum buckets).

    2. Overeducated*

      I am with you – it feels irrational to get excited about something that may be a disappointment instead of waiting for the good news first. I think you should treat yourself in some nice little way to celebrate the work and risk you put into applying, and then try to move on and distract yourself, just like Aliso advises for job applications.

      1. Charlie Q*

        Agreed! Applying is work that deserves recognition, regardless of the outcome. Do something kind for yourself for having made the attempt. You deserve it!

      2. Chilleh*

        Congratulations on submitting your application! I love Overeducated’s idea of reframing the situation so that you celebrate the accomplishment of preparing and submitting your packet and then looking ahead.

    3. Marzipan*

      I can totally understand that feeling. Good luck with your application. I’m partway into a distance learning Creative Writing MA (MFAs are less common in the UK, although I might see if I can top it up once I’m done; there’s one MFA programme I have my eye on that allows that…). I really hope you get to pursue your studies at some point – if it’s not now and through this programme, then in the future. I agree that in the meantime it’s a good idea to do something nice for yourself, but I can totally see why you aren’t feeling excited about it at the moment; I’d probably be feeling exactly the same.

      1. BrownEyedGirl*

        Yeah, the problem with the distance ones is the complete lack of funding. This program wouldn’t just be free-it would pay me to go to school. And that’s why over 1000 people apply for 20 slots.

        I’ve got great rec letters (I think, I have no idea what they’re looking for but one’s from the editorial director of my publishing house) and my personal statements are solid and my writing sample is the first few chapters of one of my published books… and I feel nauseous every time I think about it.

    4. AcidMeFlux*

      Lots of masters’ programs like non-traditional students. If you’re above right-out-of-college age, if you don’t write the usual stuff, if you’ve had more life experiences, it just might work in your favor.

      1. JessaB*

        Also you might be able to get interesting scholarships or grants. There are a lot of niche grants for non trad students. When you get in, ask the aid office what’s out there.

    5. Emlen*

      I’m in the same boat. I just finished applying to grad schools, but I’m constrained to three due to my husband’s job tying us down and graduate departments in my field being scarce. Everyone else over on gradcafe is talking about the 17 schools they applied to, and I’m depressed the same way you are – I feel like I’m setting myself up for a massive disappointment. I wish I could offer you some brilliant line of encouragement. I’m hoping the best for you, though. I imagine we’re both selling ourselves short.

      1. BrownEyedGirl*

        Thank you too much for responding. It makes me feel better to know we’re both in the same boat.

      2. TL -*

        I only applied to one. I got in (don’t know how selective the program was but they only accept 12 students.)

        I had a backup plan so once I submitted, I stopped thinking about it entirely until they contacted me. That helped a lot – my attitude was basically, if I get in, yay, if not, there are other ways in life that will get me where I want to go.

    6. Perpetua*

      Would you feel better if you HADN’T applied? What would your chance for acceptance be in that case? :)

      Can you maybe look at the effort and the money invested into applying as having invested into taking a risk and doing something for yourself? Even when such risks don’t pan out, they’re usually much better than having done nothing, because you know you did something, it didn’t work out, but you worked out your “doing” muscle and that’s quite valuable in itself.

      Good luck, I hope your writing journey continues beautifully, no matter the outcome of this application.

  19. BRR*

    I like my in laws but I can’t stand staying at their house. Certain issues are with the house itself. It’s really old and has been added onto over the years. The bathrooms are both downstairs and the only downstairs bedroom is my in law’s bedroom so we can’t sleep there. Getting ready involves a couple of trips up and down the stairs plus I usually need to use the restroom at least once a night so that involves a trip in the dark on the stairs which are super slippery. The house has a wood burning furnace so it’s super dry and they don’t have humidifiers. The furnace also essentially provides free heat (as they literally have a forrest) and my MIL is always cold. The house can easily be 80 degrees in winter but they live in a super cold place so I usually can’t open the windows.

    My FIL also makes it less than pleasant. He loves unbuttoning his pants and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him in only his tighty whities on more than one occasion. He’s hard of hearing so the TV is usually blasting and he loves sleeping with the TV on so it’s blaring all night. He won’t alter any of his behaviors because “it’s his house and he should be able to do what he wants.”

    I don’t know what to do because I want to visit them but it’s so hard. My husband doesn’t mind as much because he’s not one to speak up and grew up with this stuff. We can’t stay at a hotel because there’s not one within 30 minutes of them. We have to spend the night because they live several states over and can’t host anything because the town is central for both my MIL and FIL’s families. We tried lowering the thermostat and asking if she could leave it because it’s too hot to sleep but my MIL always gets cold and changes it. We got my FIL headphones for the TV when he’s awake but he doesn’t like using them. I’d just smile and take it but since we go for longer trips since they’re far away it’s pretty miserable.

    1. Taylor Swift*

      Ugh, what a rude attitude to have about house guests (your FIL’s, that is). Are there any Airbnbs or real BnBs nearby?

      1. BRR*

        Thanks for your reply. They live on a farm. It’s pretty far from anything and I think there would be hurt feelings trying to explain why we’re staying somewhere else when they have a big, empty house.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          It might end up being worth it to hurt their feelings if it means you can visit without being unhappy and uncomfortable. They’ve decided how they want to feel about trying to make their home more comfortable for you when you come to visit, and they want you to keep visiting and keep being uncomfortable. That’s not cool. If they want to see you, that’s lovely, and if seeing you means you stay in an AirBnB that’s about 20 minutes away, they’ll live. They are grown adults, and maintaining this relationship requires mutual respect–which means respecting that sometimes you’ll make a choice that they’re unhappy with. That doesn’t mean you’re making it AT them.

          1. BRR*

            “It might end up being worth it to hurt their feelings if it means you can visit without being unhappy and uncomfortable.”

            This is what I need to hear. I was worried this is a “your manager sucks and isn’t going to change” situation but I think this sums up what it will come down to. I don’t feel like I’m asking for the moon. Thank you so much!

            1. catsAreCool*

              “It might end up being worth it to hurt their feelings if it means you can visit without being unhappy and uncomfortable.” This!

              They don’t seem to care if you are unhappy and uncomfortable, so staying somewhere else makes a lot of sense.

        2. neverjaunty*

          They seem pretty fine with making YOU uncomfortable and unhappy, so I don’t see any reason to be any more accommodating of their feelings.

    2. Victoria, Please*

      Ooof, I feel for you. I have a similar situation in that I love my FIL but haaaate visiting him in a country far far away, boiling hot, dirty, polluted, LOUD, where I don’t speak the language and have literally nothing to do but sit in the living room and smile and cross-stitch for the entire time we visit. My last visit was particularly upsetting for a couple of (non-environmental) reasons as well. I’ve taken to skipping every other visit, letting my husband go for 2 weeks 2x per year and I only go once. But that probably wouldn’t work for you. I guess I have no words of wisdom, just sympathy…

    3. Not So NewReader*

      What does your husband say about all this? Is he willing to make shorter trips? Is he willing to go by himself? How about the folks, will they come visit you guys instead?

      1. BRR*

        It bothers him but he’s much more of the sit and take it type. He’s also used to things like the bathroom situation (it’s an upgrade for him because they grew up with only one bathroom). They at least come visit us now. We used to live closer and would only visit them. When we moved I put my foot down and said it had to be close to even.

    4. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      Yuuuck re the FIL who “loves unbuttoning his pants.” I think this needs a very consistent response of your saying “that’s not appropriate” followed by your calmly walking away, into another room or into your car and departing for your hotel room.

      Hotel room? Yes. Staying in a hotel room 30 minutes away doesn’t seem impossible to me. (Caveat: I live in a congested urban area where 30 minutes is the usual estimate of travel time between any two points.) You could develop a diplomatic health condition that has you “under doctor’s orders” to get seven hours of sleep each night. You might also cite the additional benefits of saving your in-laws the trouble of having to host breakfast and be perky as soon as they get up.

      Re the “we can’t host anything because the town is central,” I would pick at least one holiday as yours to host because otherwise you’re going to be running to your in-laws’ home on every possible occasion. Also, you are equally entitled to make arrangements that are convient for _your_ side of the family, or the friends of just you and your husband! Your in-laws aren’t entitled to monopolize the schedule or the family travel plans. If they can’t come for the Fourth of July or Labor Day barbecue, just say “We’ll miss you, we’ll think of you, and we’ll see you on [name the next time you’ll be visiting].”

      Your in-laws will probably object. But once you’ve stated your terms kindly, politely, and without giving them any room to argue you into submission, you don’t have to do anything else except rinse, repeat, and act on your decision.

      Did I have the strength to do this as a young married person? No. I wish I did. Instead I spent a lot of energy arguing and fretting because XYZ person would never, ever agree that anyone else had a valid opinion. I have learned to cope but it took many years and a significant relocation.

      1. BRR*

        I’d love to host but unfortunately it’s not really feasible. The town is central for both extended families and 30+ people for each side can’t realistically drive or fly to us and get hotels (plus we have a small apartment). Some live there and everyone but us is at most a two hour drive.

        I think you’re right that I need to stand up a little more. I’m not really asking for the moon.

        1. silence*

          If there is lots of extended family in the area is it possible to stay with relatives other than his parents?

    5. Celestial navigation*

      You say there’s not a hotel with 30 minutes- but how far away is the closest one? I would totally drive up to an hour in order to have my own space.

      1. De Minimis*

        I have extended family members who choose to do this instead of staying with parents. It’s so much easier for everyone.

        I sypmathize, I just got back from visiting my parents and it’s not easy staying with them. They also live in a semi-isolated area [though not as much as what you describe.]

        1. Amy*

          My husband and I are on the flip side of this: we live in a teeny 1-bedroom apartment with three pets and a baby. Having people stay with us is kind of a nightmare because we barely have enough space for ourselves, let alone guests + air mattress + luggage. We’ve recently let people know that if they want to visit they have to make alternate sleeping arrangements (ie, one of the many AirBnBs in our neighborhood). It was really awkward at first because it’s a thing that just Not Really Done in our family, and I felt like the world’s most unwelcoming person (come visit us, but you can’t sleep here!), but oh my goodness it is so nice. We can get up and go to sleep (and get up with the baby) anytime without worrying about waking up the transients camped out in the living room, which is huge. 10/10.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            Oh god, feeling you on this one. We have a flat that is essentially a hallway and sure it SAYS its a two bed, but once you get at third person in here it gets cramped FAST. But people see TWO BEDROOMS and figure hey its only for a few nights itll be fine! Partner’s family likes to come visit and same with you its Just Not Done to suggest they stay somewhere else. My argument is that this strains the plumbing and generates towel/bedlinen laundry that takes a few days to wash through and dry. At least people tend to go out most of the day but man… I use that other bedroom for my clothes closet, working desk, stretching area! It just takes me completely out of my rhythm.

    6. MsChanandlerBong*

      If my parents didn’t live in a ranch house, I’d think you were talking about my father with the underwear comment. My husband knew he was officially family when my dad came out of his bedroom wearing black briefs and nothing else.

      I feel the same way about staying at my mom and dad’s. They use wood and coal, so the house is extremely dry AND extremely hot even when it’s 3 degrees outside. My mother is annoyed by noise, so you can’t turn up the TV or type when she’s in the room. They also have the most uncomfortable furniture I ever sat on in my life. We were supposed to stay with them when we fly in for a wedding next October, but she told me yesterday that she doesn’t think there is enough room. In my mind, I was thinking, “THANK GOD.” I’d feel rude if I turned down an offer to stay with them, but I just know that our habits are totally out of sync and we’d clash at every opportunity.

    7. Lady Bug*

      It sounds uncomfortable, but there are a few things you can do to help yourself here. It’s hard when you go into someone else’s space, because we are used to having our homes comfortable for ourselves. My mom is a super cold person, my husband wears t-shirts year riund, but we adapt to each other. We dress super light when we visit her and she brings a comforter, scarf and sweater when she visits us. You aren’t going to change your in-laws, but you can help yourself.

      Can you bring a fan and a small humidifier for your bedroom? At least then you’ll have one room that’s a sanctuary. Would earplugs help keep the TV noise down so you can sleep? Maybe stick a towel at the bottom of the door?

      I definitely wouldn’t want to see anyone walk around in their undies, but at the same time I rarely wear a bra at home, so odds are you’d be stuck with the high beams visiting me. He’s probably trying to live with the heat!

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree w/ the idea of bringing what you need to make your own bedroom comfortable (fan, humidifier, lightweight clothing). You can even close your bedroom door and open the window a crack.

        Bring a battery-powered candle to set on the stairs as a nightlight.

        And if the stairs are truly slippery, maybe your husband can say, “Mom and Dad, let’s install some grippy stair liners so this is safer.” Amazon has adhesive ones for $35 to $57. (“stair traction treads”) And nice-looking carpeting ones for $115.

        But I also agree that even if they’re on a farm, you can say: “we’re going to stay in the motel in town.”

    8. EmmaLou*

      I think you’re going to have to stay at the hotel anyway. The drive can be relaxing. A clean, cool bed is a beautiful thing. Or is there a B&B around? VRBO? Rent a RV? They aren’t going to change. I have family that smoked forever. Staying there made me sick for three days at least every trip.

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Yeah, I was going to say rent an RV. It’s the only way my mom could come visit my family both because of our stairs and layout and the utter inability of our being able to share a house without getting away from each other for significant parts of the day.

    9. Artemesia*

      A trivial part of all this but in addition to being sure you have slippers with gripper bottoms if you stay there, you can buy a humidifier for small rooms that works with a bottle of bottled water. They are designed for travel. I go nuts in winter without a humidifier — have a small one in the bedroom and a large ‘whole house’ one in the living room for our small place. Without my skin and respiratory track and eyes all go nuts.

    10. Garland not Andrews*

      Do you have an RV or can you rent one? We have space in our house but my sister & BIL bring theirs and park it in the driveway. There are generators if you won’t have access to power and fill the water tanks before you arrive. Gives you your own space and no upping and downing the stairs.

      Just another option.

    11. Anono-me*

      To answer your question about making visits to the in-laws house easier…

      Since they have a farm; How hard would it be to get a small used camper with a bathroom and only do long visits when the weather lends itself to camping out? Maybe even leave it there?

      If/when you stay in the house, I agree with prior posts that earplugs, a small humidifier and a towel at the bottom of the door will make things easier.

      If the stairs are slippery, that should probably be addressed no matter what. Most home supply stores have spray cans of a clear non slip spray. You can also get non slip tread covers that need to be nailed or glued down. (If these visits are challenging, you don’t want a 6-8 week invalid visit.)

      Can you get FIL some nice cool comfy light cotton pants or PJs (sew the flap and call it decorative.) ? I don’t think you can change his comfort priority, just try to work with it.

      (Tbh, I would probably just go the hotel route.)

      Good luck.

    12. LS*

      It may be useful to invent a UTI that requires you to have easy access to a bathroom at night, if you feel that telling them you’re uncomfortable in their home will cause drama. Once you’ve stayed somewhere else once, it’s much easier to carry on doing it. For me, 30 minutes is not too far when you’re weighing it up against your comfort and ability to sleep at night.

    13. Neruda*

      I sympathise. I’d love to stay in a motel when visiting my MIL but I just know she would be very sad if we did that. She already feels she doesn’t get enough time to see us (my husband tries to visit friends as well as it’s his home town) and it’s even worse now we have a baby. A year ago she downsized to a tiny apartment. There’s a spare room but if we ever have another child (or even as our hold grows) I can see it becoming a sticky issue. It’s tricky to be objective as generally speaking I’d love to stay in a hotel no matter who o was visiting, I just prefer the space, but that’s easier said than done when it comes to family.

    14. Tabby Baltimore*

      In addition to the ear plugs, fan and battery-operated candle someone above suggested, and if you can afford it, consider bringing a small white noise machine to set on your nightstand to drown out the TV at night. While you can try all these things on your next visit to see if they will improve the quality of your sleep, it sounds as if you’ve reached the end of your rope. I’m w/Marillenbaum: I think it’s time for an hotel room. If money is a factor for your husband, could he arrange for you all to stay at the home of a member of either of his parents’ extended families, those who live in the central town? Barring that, I think you’ve earned the right to say to him “I’m only going on every-other-year visits to see your parents from now on.” Because They. will. not. change. And is your FIL’s pants-unbuttoning occurring more frequently? I ask, b/c if it is, possibly he’s at the top of his own downward slope toward cognitive decline. I don’t know if your MIL is self- or situationally-aware enough to be paying attention to this, but it might be worth it for your husband to have a talk with her about her perceptions. Best of luck. You have my sympathies.

  20. JHS*

    So for the commenters who were so amazing several months ago, I wanted to update that I have been having so much more fun with my now 15 month old since you gave me the wonderful advice of making sure to get out of the house with her since my husband is always working. Today we went to the local library’s “noon” years eve party from 11-12 with full “noon” countdown, balloon drop, story time, arts and crafts (she colored a 2017 headband) and silly dancing. She had a blast! It was nice for me to see her having such a great time. So thank you to all who helped us get here!!!

    1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      How wonderful! It can seem almost impossible to get out of the house with an active toddler plus all of the necessary supplies (diapers, liquids & snacks for both of you, weather-appropriate clothing, one or two toys or maybe that one essential toy, etc., etc., etc.) but it is so much better than feeling stuck at home while the day drains away.

      When our child was small we learned the expression “the days are long but the years are short.” It’s true. I don’t regret that our child is now a smart, helpful, interesting teenager but I wish that I had treasured more the times when he was amazed by the simplest, littlest things.

    2. Chilleh*

      …if we didn’t typically have NYE off at my library, I’d consider borrowing the Noon Year’s Eve Party idea for us! That sounds like so much fun, and so glad you had fun!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Yes, I plan on doing one of those some year! (My branch is closed on the weekends, but I will not always be there and neither will the 31st.)

      2. Beaded Librarian*

        My library had a noon year’s eve party today too. The kids had a blast, it was so much fun to hear them while working.

      3. DragoCucina*

        Agreed. It’s a cool idea. We’ve been adding more Tween activities. This sounds perfect and I don’t think they would care if it’s on the 29th.

  21. printrovert*

    Happy New Year’s Eve! Wrapping up the year on a positive note by taking down the holiday decor and cleaning the house, making cornbread, and sending out best wishes/gratitude cards to a few friends and some of my old neighbors. I also bought some quality chocolates that I took to work Thursday. I decided to focus on good actions and good thoughts so as to make the best of 2017. Cheers all!

  22. katamia*

    I keep having the same boring date with the same boring guy (not literally, just that there’s one “type” on OKCupid who seems to find my profile really awesome). I’m tired of it. Anyone else have this happen to them with online dating? What can I do to change up my dating game? I’m not looking for someone to marry, just…date more interesting people, I guess? (And what does it say about me that I find all these guys who share so many of my interests incredibly dull?)

    1. BrownEyedGirl*

      I found the guy I married on OKCupid after going on lots of boring dates with lots of boring guys. I think the key is to set up dates early in the conversation so you still have something to talk about when you meet, you pick the location (some place you’d be anyway), and at the end of the night make a second date right there if they’re worth seeing again (I only went on three second dates… and I only went on one third date, but I married him).

      I once went on a date entirely because the guy knew about a good ice cream place the next town over. I never saw the guy again, but I go to the ice cream place all the time. Most of the dates were for a coffee shop near my apartment that I went to all the time anyway. Like, here’s my latte and there’s the dude I’m talking to. Not the right dude? Definitely the right latte.

      Also, I found the guy who became my husband kind of boring on the first date (although sweet as hell), but when I suggested a second date at a nearby art museum he said “I’ve never been there, but I’ll go with you.” He was willing to try new things for me and I found that sexy as hell. The rest is history.

      1. katamia*

        LOL. I love the coffee place idea. I really enjoy the “trying new restaurants” element of dating right now (I’m in the DC area and we’re all so sprawled out that I’ve gone on a lot of dates in areas I don’t go to much), but I’d kinda like to be enjoying more than the food, lol.

        It’s not that we don’t have anything to talk about (I’m paranoid and tend to let the conversation bit go on too long, especially because my schedule’s unpredictable and sometimes it’s hard to schedule dates for awhile), it’s just that…I dunno, I kind of don’t want to spend a whole evening talking just about the interests I share with these guys. I want to talk about other things, too, but they’re pretty happy to just talk about the things we already know we have in common. I don’t know if that makes sense, though.

        And I’d also appreciate it if my dates didn’t try to mansplain the best way for me (self-employed with no set hours) to set up my weekly work schedule, but one thing at a time, I guess?

      2. Marillenbaum*

        I totally do this! My go-to first date spot is a restaurant fifteen minutes from my apartment where I love their fried green tomatoes. Bad dates still equal good beer. The guy I’m currently dating was actually a terrible first date–it was too soon after the election, and I didn’t have fun at all. He asked me out again, and I went because I wanted to hang out with his dog, and it was a lot better. I don’t know if I see myself dating him long-term (I’ll be leaving the country for a three-month internship this summer), but I’m enjoying myself and I’m glad I gave it a second go.

    2. Willow*

      Look for guys who don’t share all your interests, or are outside your usual “type” in some way. Part of what can make a date interesting is getting outside of your usual interests/social group. You could also take up a new hobby or class outside your normal interests, but that might or might not lead to dates.

      1. katamia*

        What do you talk about with someone you don’t share any interests with, though? Like there are people on OKCupid who are really into cars, which I know/care nothing about. I don’t want to listen to someone talk about cars, and a lot of those guys probably wouldn’t want to her me blather on about books or movies they’re not interested in, either. A guy doesn’t really have to share all my interests, but the only ones I seem to make it to the date stage with are the ones who do.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          Willow mentioned looking at people who don’t share ALL your interests. He likes cars, you don’t care. But maybe you both like the Fast and the Furious movies. Maybe you both like the same genre of videogames, like comic book movies, both have great dogs to bond over.

          It could also be that you’re finding people who either agree with you too much about the interests you do have in common or feel like they might scare you away if they disagree. Conversations about how you interpreted the ending of a movie (or who your favorite Batman is, etc) can get quite heated!

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      I weirdly went through a phase where I’d suggest the first date at a coffeehouse or ice cream place, only to get people who didn’t like coffee or ice cream. Which. Okay. I wouldn’t be offended if you didn’t like those and it’s kind weird to know you agreed to something you didn’t like. Which I know is not what you asked, but I thought it was strange.

      But as far as interesting, I try to bring up questions that go beyond shared interests. Like, “what’s your guilty pleasure?” or “What food have you never tried?” or “Let’s share irrational pet peeves”. Unique questions like that. They usually work out pretty well and we get some interesting conversation, and the people who aren’t into it I figure are either shy or not interested. Or I’ll look for someone who has some of my interests, but enough interests that aren’t shared that we have something different to talk about.

      As far as shared interests….well, with dating comes having to listen to someone talk about an interest you don’t particularly care about. It’s great to have some things in common, but I think it’s good to have other passions you don’t share. I don’t particularly care about football, but if someone is so passionate they want to share their love for football with me, then I’m flattered. The same way I’d be flattered if someone who hated sci-fi movies wanted to listen to me talk about sci-fi just because they knew it made me happy. Obviously, I don’t want them to only talk about that, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing if they have an interest I don’t particularly care about. As long as we have something in common, it’s cool.

      Sometimes I prefer to go on a date with someone who doesn’t share many of my interests because it’s something new to talk about. If you only want to talk about shared interests, you’re going to have a hard time meeting someone different.

      1. katamia*

        That’s really weird. I wonder why they didn’t just suggest a different place that had food/drink they were interested in. I do hate coffee, but I’m happy to sit and drink hot chocolate with someone who’s drinking coffee.

        We don’t have to have all our interests in common (my main interests are A, B, and C, and I’ve never met anyone else interested in all 3), but thinking about it more, I think what happens is that I’ll get someone who loves A and that’s all they want to talk about (and it’s ALWAYS A, never B or C), and there’s no sign of a D or E for them.

        1. Artemesia*

          Yeah this would be my airport test for a new date. (the ‘airport test’ was my joking standard when hiring new people. If they couldn’t gracefully connect with the colleague who was picking them up at the airport, they would be impossible to work with — you know the airport dance. You know it is a middle aged guy or a 30 something woman and so as people are coming out of the gate area you sort of pick a likely candidate and make eye contact; if they respond, you then walk up and say their name and 80% of the time you are right. Then there are those who simply stomp along full speed ahead neither looking left nor right and you have to end up paging.) Well someone who can’t go to a coffee house and order, tea or hot chocolate or just get water and a cookie is probably too high maintenance to bother with; of course they could also suggest somewhere else.

        2. chickabiddy*

          Huh. I don’t drink coffee since my body decided it didn’t like it any more several years ago, but I would be happy to meet at a coffeehouse since they are usually pleasant and low-key (and I still love the smell). I’d order something I liked; I’ve never been to a coffee place that didn’t have tea or any other alternatives. So I understand a “coffee” date even if s/he doesn’t drink coffee, but I don’t understand agreeing to a meeting place and then fussing about it.

      2. Panda Bandit*

        I hate coffee but every coffeehouse has tea, hot chocolate, and pastries. You’d think there was one thing in there they could enjoy.

    4. LisaLee*

      I’ve read that you should actually go on dates with people who have a compatibility rating on OKC in the 70’s-80’s range, rather than the 90s, because otherwise you won’t have enough differences to be interesting to each other. I haven’t had the chance to test this out myself (as a queer woman in the Midwest, my selection is pretty small) but I do seem to find I like dates with “less compatible” people a bit more.

    5. Lily Evans*

      I don’t have any advice, just commiserations. I’ve started wondering with OKCupid if the whole personality based matching is finding people who are way too similar to me. I’m usually more attracted to people who are more outgoing than I am, and I don’t need to have all the same interests. Sometimes, I actually have such strong opinions about certain things I’m interested in, that dating someone who likes it too, but disagrees with me, is way worse than dating someone who has completely different interests.

      Almost all of my friends have the same interests as I do, and we’re all a lot alike, so I really don’t need a significant other to do everything with me. I’d rather meet people who I have just a few things in common with, but with a more complementary personality. But I definitely seem to be a magnet for people I find incredibly boring or who I’d rather just be friends with.

  23. RL*

    Before Christmas my dad was being annoying, so I said that Santa would leave him coal in his stocking if he didn’t leave me alone (this is all very lighthearted; he was just being silly), to which left him completely baffled as to what coal had to do with Santa. So I tried to jog his memory, like you know, if you’re bad Santa will bring you coal. He still had no idea what I was talking about. How can he have never heard of this! Don’t all American children know this? For reference, he’s 68 (I’m 30). Maybe this wasn’t a thing when he was young?
    This isn’t the first childhood thing that I thought all children knew that he didn’t. During the summer, I made a s’more flavored dessert, and he was confused as to why there was marshmallow in it and it became apparent he had no idea what a s’more was. When I explained it, he just looked puzzled as to why anyone would toast a marshmallow and eat it with chocolate and graham cracker, and said he hadn’t really been camping as a child. Well, neither have I, and I’ve eaten plenty of them. Was a s’more not a thing in the 50’s? And even then, he must have seen me eating one at one point? And has he just been baffled this whole time as to why chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows are stacked in a pyramid near the door of the grocery store in the summer?
    It just… boggles my mind he had no idea what I was talking about. There are other things, but these are the two that come to mind at the moment.

    1. Cruciatus*

      The other day my mom (in her 70s) was telling me a story about her friend (late 70s). My mom’s friend, A, had all these figs and didn’t know what to do with them. As my mom says that I immediately said “figgy pudding!” and my mom said “That’s just what I said, but A had never heard of that!” I’m “only” in my 30s but I know of figgy pudding just from the one verse of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” but my mom’s friend has NEVER heard this verse and said it might just be a “regional” thing which is weird, because she GREW UP WHERE WE ALSO LIVE NOW. There are no concerns about memory deficits or anything so I think she just has this weird gap where she’s never heard/paid attention to the verse of that song where the people become huge jerks and won’t leave until they get some figgy pudding (and yes, she celebrates Christmas).

      So, no advice, just ….it happens sometimes! Or it’s not important enough for a person to remember if they aren’t familiar enough with it.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Those were definitely things in the 50s. There’s an outside possibility he has memory loss, but if he seems otherwise fine and normal, I’d guess he had a really, really isolated childhood. Does he have stories of his childhood?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ugh. I had a friend who did not know any Christmas songs. Not Rudolph, Frosty, nothing…. because he did not have that type of childhood where anyone cared if he learned those songs. The story gets worse after that.

        I think everyone has gaps in their pool of general knowledge though. It is surprising what some people have missed.

        Currently, I am watching a couple people who partied hearty on into their 30s. Now that they are pushing 50 plus they are bemoaning how much life learning/general knowledge they missed because of solid partying. Oddly, I never thought about this so I am part way horrified in watching folks struggle with grocery shopping, meal planning and other stuff that many folks take for granted by this stage.

        1. TheLazyB*

          My sister asked her new boyfriend in passing whether he’d had Christmas trees growing up. He answered ‘… I think maybe one year we did?’ so sad :( he’s lovely and all.

        2. Felicia*

          I remember as a teen being embarrassed to not know Christmas songs but I’m Jewish so they’re obviously not something I was exposed to in my family and I’d never had much interest in Christmas movies or anything. Even now there’s the random Christmas or Easter tradition that is something “everyone must know” that I’ve never heard of.

          Similarly there are certain things about the US i only know because of TV, since I’m Canadian

    3. Sherm*

      I know that s’mores aren’t worldwide, so if he was born in another country or grew up in a tight-knit immigrant community, that could explain it. I think we all have gaps in our “collective knowledge,” though. I’ve always wondered, what is the most well-known thing that I have never heard of? If I knew the answer, then I would have heard of it!

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I think some people just have a different upbringing and aren’t exposed to some very common things.

      This isn’t exactly the same thing, but there are a whole bunch of foods my husband had never tried until he met me, because his parents didn’t buy those things or eat them. Things like bagels, shrimp, roast beef (lunch meat) and other things we (I) just assume everyone has had. It was very weird to me each time he said, “Oh, I’ve never had that before.” And I’m thinking, “You’re (age) and you’ve never had a bagel?! That’s lunacy!!” But that’s because these things were common for my family and not his. Likewise, he was blown away that I’d never had sauerkraut on a hot dog.

      1. Windchime*

        I had never had a bagel until I was 18 and discovered them at the dorm cafeteria. I don’t think I’d ever tasted cream cheese, either.

        1. Paquita*

          I never had a bagel until we went to Israel years ago. They served them on the plane and I was hooked.

    5. DragoCucina*

      I admit to not knowing about s’mores until adulthood. Since I never belonged to the Girl Scouts and I really don’t like marshmallows my family would never have wasted graham crackers and chocolate that way. The worst childhood ice cream? Rocky Road. The best? Pistachio.

    6. Woman of a Certain Age*

      I’ve certainly heard about Santa Claus leaving a lump of coal in your stocking if you were a bad child, but you know, I’ve never actually seen a lump of coal. I was recently discussing this with my elderly father and he said there was a hardware store in town that sells it and the buyers are mostly all blacksmiths as we live in an area with a lot of horses and horse people.
      My childhood home was built in the 1930s and originally used coal for heat, but by the time we moved there in the 1960s a forced-air heating system powered by natural gas had been installed. In the foundation of the house was a little metal door that opened into a closet in the corner of the basement that was a coal bin, but we just used it as a closet.
      As a joke, I sometimes put uncooked raw vegetables in my family’s Christmas stockings: potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots. Good little Irish children all get potatoes. But so do the bad ones.
      I’ve never actually seen figs and don’t know what you’d do with one. (I’ve certainly seen fig newtons and heard of figgy pudding.) I grew up in the “pop” zone. I’ve never actually seen grits, either. (They don’t really sound very good.)

      1. LS*

        When I was a young child we had a coal shed in the back yard. Apparently I’d ride in there on my tricycle amd eat the coal. There’s a photo somewhere…

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          St Nicolas day (on the 6th of December) is sort of a dress rehearsal for Christmas. St Nicolas rewards good children with presents (usually sweets) in their shoes/stockings and bad children get a stick (to be beaten with) or coal.

          In Northern Europe, St Nicolas usually visits schools/playgroups/creches and depending on the country, brings his scary friend to punish all the bad children. Krampus (in Austria) still terrifies me. (If you google for an image, make sure you do so in broad daylight!)

    7. Nerfmobile*

      My dad is 75 and definitely knew about both – he fed us smores when we went camping and teased about Santa leaving coal in stockings. I’d expect them to be common cultural references for most adults, so it is somewhat odd that your dad didn’t connect with either.

    8. Panda Bandit*

      The aliens who abducted your dad didn’t do a very good job of briefing his replacement.

    9. Al Lo*

      This is timely, since I just discovered that my husband doesn’t know what Mad Libs are. I’m not sure how that one escaped him!

  24. Sparkly Librarian*

    Well, internet service at home has been out since Thursday, and the earliest they can send a tech is Jan. 9th. So I guess I get more time to read! I’m at 129 new books read in 2016, and I might be able to squeeze in one more before the clock strikes midnight. Also poaching pears for a potluck tonight – first time, but I gather it’s not that hard. Transporting them on the bus, however…

    1. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Wow! I usually read about 50 books per year (mostly new), but I totally fell off the wagon in 2016. I keep a spreadsheet of what I’ve read and I stopped updating it in the spring. :/ I built 2017’s reading list in a Google Sheet for easier updating. I wish I had the time/stamina to read more than I do, but I find it’s not always my preferred way to unwind after a stressful day at work.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I keep a to-read list on Amazon (but I never buy books since I have interlibrary loan), and my have-read list on my blog (which is pretty much the main purpose of it these days). It helps me with recall and reader’s advisory. And I can tell when I go through busy periods or slumps based on how many titles I’ve read and what part of the year we’ve reached. I record any re-reads but don’t count them in the total. Sometimes I spend too much time on mindless surfing or videos, though, which is why I’m trying to look on the bright side of the internet outage.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          My to-read list is becoming a nightmare. I’d have to read 100 books per year for 21 years just to read them all! I hit 100 last year, but I’m only at 83 for this year.

          1. Sparkly Librarian*

            I do revisit and trim it down from time to time. It usually hovers between 120-130, but I got it down under 100 a couple months ago! I’m also no longer invested in having read many of the classics.

    2. Cruciatus*

      Heh, no chance your library offers the mobile hot spots people can borrow? I just found out ours does that and I find it amazing they offer it (as I don’t find my city very progressive, but I guess I should always count on the library)!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        We do! I think there are about 25, and usually a waiting list of about 80, though. Thanks for spreading the word about your library. :)

    3. nep*

      Wow — I will let this inspire me from today on. Thanks. That is impressive, I must say. I am always so much happier when I’m reading regularly.

    4. Sydney Bristow*

      I recommend complaining to your internet company on Twitter if you haven’t already. Our internet went out and we were given an appointment two weeks later over the phone. When I complained on Twitter they magically had a technician available the next day.

  25. Amber Rose*

    I hurt my back again, for the second time this month. I suffer from night terrors and sleep paralysis and woke up in a weird pretzel position yesterday and now my back hurts so bad I can hardly move.

    Does anyone know some good stretches or exercises or anything to make this better faster? It took like two weeks to heal last time. :(

    The pain seems to be coming from just by my armpit, or my shoulder blade. Hard to tell.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      I tend to have lower back pain if I sit weirdly, plus lingering neck issues from a car crash when I was 21. Things that help me: hot baths/showers, ibuprofen, gentle yoga (I recommend the Yoga with Adrienne YouTube channel), and sleeping on firm, well-supported surfaces. For my neck, I will roll up a towel and put it under my neck to sleep instead of a pillow, and it really helps the next day.

    2. Undine*

      Whatever you do, do it slow. Cats and cows, knees to chest, gentle side stretches, maybe some shoulder shrugs, strap over the head (only don’t go that far). Pose of a child with arms over the head. Also lying on a tennis ball can sometimes help.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        All of these. I do this set daily to keep limber with my back issues.

        The tennis ball can be a great way to help work out the knots – lay on it if you cant get enough pressure with your hand.

    3. Franzia Spritzer*

      Do you have a tennis ball? If not a canister of new balls is about $2 at target. If you have a foam roller that would be ideal.

      Lay down on the floor, get the tennis ball into the spot and use bodyweight pressure to roll around on the ball.

  26. LawCat*

    Big change for our household in 2017: spouse going back to school. Yesterday was his last day at work. I’m grateful that we have the resources to absorb the income reduction. We definitely need to reduce our “fun” spending. (Eating out is my weakness!) We’ve pushed out the vacation we were planning this year to 2018 so we don’t have to save so aggressively for it and will just do a modest car trip this summer. We spend a fair bit on races so we’ll need to scale that back. He’s cancelled his gym membership (can access a gym at school). We will still be socking money into retirement accounts and do not plan on cutting down my contributions (his will cease with his last paycheck). So grateful to have a handle on our finances!

    In other news, for me personally, I’m trying not to make too many grand resolutions. My goals are for the first 30 days of 2017: floss daily, meditate daily (I’ve been using Headspace app intermittently, but plan to do it every day), and go 10k steps daily. After 30 days, I will see where I am and plan for the next round :-)

    1. Dan*

      I feel you on the financial front. I still have a good chunk of debt left over from 2013 when I got divorced and laid off. My goal is to pay off $10k of it this year. It’ll take some discipline, but it’s at super low interest rates (<3%) so if I slip, it's not that costly.

      Some of the time line slipped a bit because my job has a generous 401k match that I wasn't taking full advantage of (they match up to 10% of my salary), so it was actually worth maxing out the match and hanging on to the debt.

      Anyway, I feel your pain a bit, but here's to getting through 2017 financially in one piece.

    2. Gala apple*

      Love the 30 day resolutions! I’ll have to do some version (probably even the same ones… helps that I’m going on retreat for the first week!). Good luck with school for the fam!

  27. Tara R.*

    After approximately 7 years, I am trying to break the habit of going on my phone for an hour+ in bed every night. Ironically, this has actually led to more sleep then what I did before that (I cannot read actually books before bed. I will stay up for 4 hours finishing the whole book). Last night, I used the sleep timer on Audible and listened to 15 minutes of an audiobook; I actually felt pretty sleepy, but it still took me more than an hour to fall asleep.

    Part of the reason the phone is so tempting is because I just stay on it until I know I’m so exhausted I’ll fall asleep. I haaaaate laying in bed with nothing to do.

    I think I’m going to try the audiobook thing for a few nights before I give up on it. I have the month long free trial of Audible, so I’m a bit scared to get dependent on it; I can’t really afford to pay for it when the trial’s up.

    1. Beaded Librarian*

      Check out your local library if you decide that listening to audiobooks work. Many of them have one or more digital audiobook resources including OverDrive, OneClick Digital (Although I think the name changed and I can’t think of what it is) and Hoopla are the most common ones. Also maybe try using your listening time to 30min?

      1. Tara R.*

        Oh, of course, I didn’t even think about the library! I’ll check that out when my trial is up. Thank you!

    2. let the bon-bons roll*

      You might also try some of the more narrative podcasts, although if they are well done, it can be hard to stop listening and fall asleep!

    3. CopperPenny*

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one who can not read before bed for that reason. I also had the same problem with the phone. Putting my phone across the room so I have to get up to get it really helped. I also now chrochet or journal before bed and that helps.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      There are also some really great podcasts that you can listen to to fall asleep: Sleep with Me is a great free podcast that involves low-key storytelling. It has a bunch of back episodes, but you can also just dive in. FWIW, I fall asleep to podcasts every night, because otherwise my brain goes in rabbit-circles until suddenly it’s 3 AM.

    5. animaniactoo*

      So interestingly, I started writing a book in my head. When I’m ready to go to sleep, I’ll lay in bed with my eyes closed and go over some of the scenes. I’ve been writing it for over a year now and just the other day I figured out how one scene that I want to go a certain way can get there from a contradicting position earlier on, while still feeling completely realistic. Sure, some of the words change now and then, but the basic story doesn’t and I revisit scenes all the time, just to enjoy them.

      Usually, I’m asleep within about 10 minutes. And I’m a “stare at the ceiling until 3 am” kind of person who has trouble turning my brain off. I don’t know if that would work for you, but tossing it out there because it was so unexpected.

    6. Sophie Winston*

      Try listening to a book you read a few years ago. Long enough that you remember the basic plot, so aren’t kept awake wondering what happens, but have forgotten enough of the detail that it distracts you from all the other thoughts floating through your head.

    7. Username has gone missing*

      I use an app called Forest which makes illustrated trees ‘grow’ for a time you set – if you use your phone during, the trees die! Works a treat.

    8. Ismis*

      I tried a relaxation app for a while – Calm. There are different meditation options and you can choose from different sounds afterwards, like rain, fire crackling etc.

    9. Bull Terrier in a Wig*

      I’m a constant reader. Good authors will keep me awake, even if I’m re-reading them for the 20th time…

      The way I deal with it: I have a playlist on my Kindle titled “Sleepy,” with about an hour and a half of music that helps me slow down. It’s slow songs/pieces that I love to listen to. In a sense, it is music that takes me to my “happy place,” (icky term!) but doesn’t make me want to boogie.

      It helps pull my mind away from whatever I’m reading – and when I feel that, I stop reading and start playing solitaire. After I’ve dropped my Kindle once or twice, then I settle down to sleep,earbuds still in. I hardly ever hear the last piece.

      But there are some authors that, when I turn the light out at 6:15 am instead of 3, I say, for instance, “Curse you, Dorothy L. Sayers!” Not seriously. After all, it wouldn’t do anything anyway, since she has “passed on, ceased to be, joined the choir celestial!”

    10. AliceBD*

      I don’t have any help for you, but I wanted to let you know I totally relate with the fact that reading a book keeps you up hours later than doing stuff on your phone does. I’m the same way.

    11. Windchime*

      I will sometimes listen to podcasts while waiting to fall asleep. They can’t be too interesting, though; otherwise, I’ll force myself to stay awake to hear what happens! I just set the timer for the podcast to stop playing when it’s done (instead of going to the next episode) and I normally only last a few minutes before I crash.

      I used to fall asleep to the TV but I realized that it was actually keeping me awake. I started the podcast habit instead and now I can’t imagine having the TV on while I’m trying to fall asleep. It can take awhile for new habits to take hold but I’m glad I stopped with the TV. I think I’m sleeping a lot better now.

  28. FDCA In Canada*

    A side note on a discussion my husband and I were having: coming home from Christmas away, our drive home was on some twisty, dark, windy 2-lane roads (and then it started snowing, but that’s another story). We spotted a car on the side of the road with another car stopped helping them change a flat tire, and my husband said “Oh, I wonder if we should stop and help, too.”

    I was flabbergasted. From the age of fifteen when I started driving, it’s been impressed on me that I should absolutely not ever stop in a dark, secluded area for a car on the side of the road! I’m a small woman. My husband is a muscular spec ops guy. He can, and has, stopped both alone and with friends to help haul cars out of ditches, change flats, call CAA, whoever. I have never, and can’t imagine that I would ever. As much as I would feel for someone struggling to change a flat, I think the most I would ever do would be to stop some many yards ahead and phone assistance on their behalf. Especially in the dark of night, good grief.

    Do you/would you stop to help on the side of the road?

    1. katamia*

      Nope, especially not if I’m the only one in the car. I’d call from further on down the road, but that’s it. I can’t imagine stopping either unless I actually recognized that it was someone I knew and was 100% sure it was them before I stopped.

    2. Dan*

      Changing a flat is a one person job. I’ve done it without assistance a few times. TBH, a second person just gets in the way, or just stands there and says “maybe you should…” The cars that I’ve driven have all had spares and a kit to change them, so there is truly nothing for a second person to do.

      I would be inclined to stop if I had special tools or what not, but realistically, there’s nothing I can do for a car that’s on the side of the road. If your car is broke, I don’t have the tools, skills, or parts to do anything about it. It would have been a different story in the pre-cell phone era, but today? They can call AAA or roadside assistance. Yeah, I know, what if they don’t have one or the battery is dead? The odds of a car breaking down AND the owner not having a cell phone with enough charge are pretty low.

      There was a thread a few weeks ago about state inspections for cars being a ripoff. Well, those things *do* kind of force you to get your aging junkers off the road, which I suspect does reduce the liklihood of your car breaking down min-trip. In VA, I don’t see a ton of broken down cars on the side of the road. It happens, but our roadways aren’t littered with them.

      1. Amadeo*

        “Changing a flat is a one person job.”

        Yup. A little over a year ago I had to stop and put the spare on my car (I love finding bolts in the road!) and some gray-headed older fellow saw a young woman pulling the jack and the spare from the trunk and decided he had to stop and help. About the only thing he was good for was breaking the lug nuts loose. My dad’s a mechanic, I can change a tire and I know the nut-tightening pattern. This guy started to do them around in a circle and I ended up gently taking the wrench back and thanking him profusely for his ‘help’.

        He tried, I suppose, and had I been in real trouble I would have been grateful that someone saw fit to stop and at least be company, but he was really kind of in my way over just a flat tire.

      2. Stephanie*

        Yeah, Arizona doesn’t really have a state inspection (iirc, there’s an emissions inspection if your car is older than five years old and isn’t classified as an antique) and yeah…you see clunkers all over the place. Car breakdowns are common during the hotter months in Phoenix.

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      Yes, I have/would. When I was in college, I was driving home from work in a snowstorm. My car slid down a hill and got stuck in a snowbank. I didn’t have the money for a tow, so I was stuck there until some nice person came along and pushed my car out of the snow. My mother is always telling me I am going to end up murdered because I think everyone is good. It’s not that I think everyone is good; it’s that she automatically assumes everyone is out to rob her, while I give people the benefit of the doubt unless they give me reason not to do so.

    4. Paula, with Two Kids*

      I have stopped, but it was a truck with two women in it, and I could clearly tell there were no men. I was so glad I stopped, they just needed some gas, and I was able to run a bring a container I kept at my house for my riding mower.

      OTOH, every time I’ve had a flat but once, men stopped and changed it for me. Was really grateful, especially the time when my kids were small and it was a 100 degree day and I could take them inside a nearby fast food place.

      I don’t think many men would have trouble changing a tire, but I find it extremely difficult and frustrating. I have never been able to bench press more than 65 pounds.

    5. Chilleh*

      Whenever I see an accident or someone who looks like they are struggling, I’ll call it in as quickly as safely possible. Other than that, there’s nothing I could do to help really since I don’t think I could even change my own car tire anymore (too many runflat tires will make you forget the technique).

      One Christmas Day when it was just my parents and I (I was about 23 at the time) I went out for a drive. It was a very cold and windy day, but since it was also bright and sunny I thought I’d be fine. After driving awhile a bucket flew out of a roadside ditch and blew in front of the car, and I couldn’t slow down in time to avoid hitting it. This was no big deal but it got lodged under my wheel well and I pulled over and managed to yank it out.

      A couple had pulled over by the time asking if I needed help, I was too cold by this time to talk effectively so I mumbled something about a bucket and being okay, and thankyouverymuch. They looked at me like I may not be in my right mind but managed to convince them all was well and that I wasn’t just hanging out on the side of the road in my pajama pants and coat for fun. I made it home without further incident, thankfully.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I marveled at this with my husband, too. “What do you mean you just stop?”
      I think some parents worry more than other parents and the worriers drill it into their kid’s head, “don’t stop”.
      I grew up in a populated area. I moved to a more rural area. I can tell you from the recipient’s side of the care, that more than half the people here make it their habit to stop. Well, we have one patrol car on for our entire county all night. So police are NOT coming and everyone knows that. This kind of raises the moral obligation to stop.

      When cells first became available, my husband had two times he went sliding off the road. Both times it was after dark, in a storm. And both times it was women who stopped. I was AMAZED. He chuckled in an understanding way. Each time the woman locked herself in her car and waited for him to approach. He walked up. She opened the window wide enough to push her cell phone through the window. He was so grateful. So was I.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yes, I think this is related to where you live. On a short trip to a very isolated, cold area in late winter, our van broke down several hours from the city we were driving to, and for the hours a couple of the guys spent trying to fix it, every single car that passed stopped and asked if we needed help. This was not somewhere known for friendliness, quite the opposite. When I was surprised, a local guy said, “we always stop for cars here. If you don’t stop, people die.” They ended up being unable to start the van, so we got to the city stuffed into the back of two random cars that stopped.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. That’s right.

          My husband and I picked up a couple in similar situation. What happened next was AMAZING. We noticed the wife was VERY SCARED. So I kept chatting about this and that, hoping that chatter would help her some how. It was a bit of a ride (almost an hour) to their house but we finally got there. I did not have to look in the back seat. I KNEW she was CRYING because she was so happy to see her house. That is when the story came out. They had escaped a Famous Dictator (not Hitler) in Europe. They fled with the clothes on their backs. They fixed us a dinner from their culture as they told us the story. I was awed. It was a privilege to meet these people and hear their story. Dinner was delicious.

          I know that the common thought is it’s so dangerous to pick people up and one should definitely pay attention to their gut in any situation. Oddly, this time my gut said, “Tell hubby to turn around and get these people.” So we did.

    7. Mags*

      Nope! I always call it in, but I would never EVER stop by myself. The only time I’ve stopped was when a multiple car accident happened in front of me on a busy highway in the middle of the afternoon. I pulled over to let 911 know what the injuries were.

    8. EmmaLou*

      Husband stops, I don’t as I’m useless help. We once stopped and found a little family that had been stuck for quite some time as their jack was broken. This was before the prevalence of cell phones. Husband lent them our jack and they were so grateful.

    9. ThatGirl*

      I feel like this might be partly gendered. I am female and have never stopped for anyone else but have had a fair amount of men stop to help me. I suck at tire changing, but would offer a phone if needed.

      That said if the people you passed already had help there’s probably not much need for someone else to stop.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      It depends. If I’m with my husband, we usually stop. We helped a guy jump start his car on Christmas Eve. If I was by myself, I might roll down the window to ask if I can make a call for them, but I’m useless otherwise and I’m not confident I could kick someone’s ass if I had to.

      Coincidentally, hubby and I needed a jump start while in the Target parking lot last Monday. We had the hood up and were standing outside the car. Think one person would ask if we needed a jump? Nope. Not a single soul. Even people who pulled in right beside us or in front of us. Luckily I was able to call my friend (AAA has a THREE HOUR wait!) and she jumped us.

      1. Amadeo*

        I feel a little crunchy about it sometimes but I haaaaaate jumping car batteries. HATE IT. I have a really nice set of jumper cables and if the other party seems to know what they’re doing, I’ll let them go to town, but I won’t do it myself.

        I will happily help you change your tire out or do it for you though!

    11. Stephanie*

      No. I’m a not particularly intimidating-looking woman. Yeah, totally gendered and I know the likelihood of something happened would be slim. That combined with more pragmatic reasons (I’m not even sure how I would help change the tire–it mostly is a one-person job) leads me to not stop. I’d just call it in.

    12. Red*

      Nope! If I can change a tire myself, so can they. It’s really a one person job. If it looks like injuries could be involved, I’ll pull over in a nearby lot and call 911, but I’m a tiny lady. I’m not going to potentially start a situation I can’t end.

      1. DoDah*

        I’m a small female also. More often than not—I stop. At an accident scene, I once caught a dog, who escaped from one of the cars. It almost was hit by another car (who didn’t stop.) I’ve been lucky enough to have people stop to help me when I needed help, so I try to pay back the karmic favor. Not to flame the group–but as a society we all need to step in and help each other a bit more.

    13. DragoCucina*

      It depends on the situation. I often call the non-emergency number of the police or county sheriff and explain the situation. Fortunately they know me via work and get out as soon as possible. I’ve stopped for a couple of teen girls, but as I walked up I was obviously on my phone with the police.

      My youngest son looks like a 40s superhero plus very neat beard and mustache. He often stops if he sees elderly drivers in trouble. Changes tires, provides a jump, has called 911 and provided first aide. He doesn’t stop for everyone, but will also call in people stuck on the side.

      1. Artemesia*

        Several decades ago the young son of family friends stopped on the highway to help an elderly couple with a flat tire. Some yutz smashed into the car killing him and one of the couple. They were not in the road but pulled over but many inexperienced drivers hit things they look at; a young driver took out an entire bicycle team in Europe a few years ago — she sees something interesting coming towards her and looks and the car follows killing several of the cyclists.

        Over the years I have been rescued several times by people who helped me with car trouble or a flat but I always worry more about them getting hit by a car than them murdering me. I could change a flat in my youth; I am not sure I could do it now. Luckily tires are a lot better now than they were.

    14. Sophie Winston*

      I (woman, but not small) have stopped, but for whatever reason, every time I can recall has been in a reasonably populated area. Jumping cars in parking lots that weren’t deserted, pushing cars stuck in the snow in residential neighborhoods, that sort of thing. Most of the time I see someone off the road, someone else has already stopped or I can see they are talking on their phone already.

    15. chickabiddy*

      I do not stop, mostly for my own safety (female, usually alone or with teenage daughter) and partly because there’s not much I can do to help. I *can* change a tire but won’t in the dark on the side of the road but can’t do anything else to get cars to go again. I will sometimes pull over and stay in my locked car but roll down the window and offer to call for help. I am more likely to do this if I can see that the person is female, elderly, or alone.

    16. jamlady*

      Also a small female – I work outdoors and have plenty of vehicle emergency experience, so I will stop when I’m on duty at all times given that the area is safe, and I will stop when I’m off-duty in the day time and I know the person who’s stopped needs a hand. Like someone above said, changing a tire is a one-person job. I live in a remote enough area that mostly I might just be checking to make sure that, even if I can’t help the actual issue, I can at least get a call out for them if they don’t have service (very common out here and I have an emergency radio for county dispatch – before my current position I had all emergency contacts on speed dial).

      For what it’s worth, my sisters are equally small and female, and I would never suggest they stop and help someone out. They don’t have the skill set to help much and something like that is something we were raised to be wary of – I just grew out of it as a part of my career. I don’t blame people who don’t stop and I never expect people to do things that make them uncomfortable or afraid. It’s not worth it.

    17. Glenn*

      I guess this mostly doesn’t come up for me because I live in suburbia. I’ve given jumpstarts to lots of strangers in parking lots, that’s no problem and there are usually plenty of people around. And I’ve stopped to give road flares to someone whose car was broken down in the middle of a road (in the middle of the day). But I would basically never pull over for someone on the highway. In a populous area with lots of highway patrol, it doesn’t seem like there would generally be a need for it, and I am definitely afraid of being mugged. (I’m a man in my 30’s, but typically alone and not exactly athletic, and a little bit of a worrywart.) I think about the only exception would be if it looked like there were injuries and nobody else yet present and helping, since I have first aid training and supplies on hand. Otherwise, it’s suburbia, they’ll survive waiting for AAA.

    18. LibbyG*

      I used to stop a lot in the pre cell phone era, particularly for other women. I’ve changed tires for people, and once I temporarily fixed an upper radiator hose so that the driver could drive to a part store and get a new one (rather than being towed to a garage). Another time I stopped for a family, and an elderly lady sat in my air conditioned car while they waited for the wrecker. It’s been a while though, due to cell phones, I think. I never see a car with the hood up – the traditional “please stop” signal.

    19. KR*

      I’m no help for repairs but if it’s a dark road not heavily trafficked and they look like they’re by themselves I’ll ask if they need to make a phone call or if they need my headlights for light.

    20. AliceBD*

      I am also a small(ish) woman and it was impressed upon me never to stop. If I had just seen a wreck happen where people would need assistance and emergency services hadn’t been called I would call, but the only accidents I’ve seen without emergency services were fender benders (some of them bad, but everyone still able to get out of the cars on their own and presumably make calls). But I also started driving after it was presumed most drivers had cell phones — for me and a lot of my friends, you got a cell phone when you started driving. I wasn’t allowed to text with it (too expensive) or do much more than call home, but it was there in case of an emergency.

    21. Karin*

      I am a 5’4″ tall woman who grew up in suburbia but spent plenty of time in the city. There is no way I would ever pull over to help a stranger, much less in the dark. If they seemed majorly distressed, I’d go a bit farther down the road and call AAA for them.

      As a slightly related note, recently, when we saw a news story about women being harassed on the street, he said something like, “Who are these women and what are they doing to get harassed like that?”

      I looked at him and said, “That happens to me all the time.”

      He responded, “I’ve never heard anyone say or do these things to you.”

      I said, “Um…you’re a 6’3″ tall man and weigh 250 pounds. People are not going to mess with me when I’m walking with you.”

      His response, “Oh…”

    22. Windchime*

      I probably wouldn’t now, since I’m in a major metropolitan area and everyone has cell phones. But I grew up in a rural area, and people do stop. Once when I was driving a low-slung car, I tried to make a left turn and got high-centered on the snow in the middle of the road. Two young guys stopped immediately and pushed me out. No conversation happened at all; they just jumped out of their car and started pushing. I’ve stopped to help push a car that’s been stuck (I’m a woman, but I’m tall and strong).

      When I have jumper cables, I always offer a jump if it’s in a populated parking area. It just seems so heartless to not offer. If the person looked dangerous or scary, I’d call for help on their behalf. People are always grateful for a jump and it’s a small favor. (I won’t hook up the cables, though; that part is scary to me).

    23. neverjaunty*

      The last time I stopped to help someone who needed a jump, dude ended up damaging the hood latch of my car by repeatedly slamming it without first folding down the prop stick. Apparently he didn’t think that I knew how to detach and stow jumper cables and close the hood of MY OWN CAR. Even though, maybe, the fact that only one of us (me) had cables should have indicated who actually understood what they were doing.

    24. Paula, with Two Kids*

      I really don’t understand what help people think “calling it in” is. Right here in north Texas, that means the police contact the owner and tell them how many hours they have until the police tow and impound the vehicle. It does not result in anyone helping the motorist. Is it different in other places?

      1. Ppanon*

        Yes, tow trucks and rescue vehicles get into fist fights in my urban area over who has rights to a vehicle in distress.
        And there no way I’d stop to help– as if I could be helpful with people already helping out, I’d be in the way.
        Plus people sue a lot around here.
        Ive boosted many vehicles though, if I don’t get a bad vibe off the people.

  29. Central Perk Regular*

    Any tips for building a house? My husband and I want to build a new house by the end of 2017 because we just cant find what we want in our city. This would be our second home.

    1. BRR*

      My cousin said the “best way” is to hire an architect to design it then shop the plans to different builders. I have no idea if this is true.

      1. enough*

        This does get you a house that fits what you want. My husband and I were fortunate to find a development where the builder had a house that was just about perfect and certainly fit what we wanted then and has worked for 32 years.
        As for tips – make sure that everything you can think of is in the contract. We had a small issue with our kitchen sink and could answer yes when the builder asked if it was in the contract.
        Decide where you want your outlets and switches. There are spacing requirements for outlets and you could end up with too few and not where you need them. If possible mark them on the actual framing before they start wiring. Outlets are particularly important if you have certain furniture arrangements or equipment needs. This goes for cable wiring, etc.
        If you have a deep enough lot try to get them to put the house/garage 35 feet back from the property line. (25 feet is the usual minimum). If the garage is 35 feet back you can park cars behind each other and stay within the confines of the drive way. This is especially nice if you have a party or have limited on street parking for some reason.
        You will need to decide if you want to be part of a development or a single lot somewhere. If a single lot get a builder who is very familiar with the building requirements of the municipality you’re building in. For a development you like in general but not necessarily their offerings ask if they will build other designs or allow you to make changes to theirs that would suit you better. Some will, some won’t and of those who will there will likely be limitations. They will usually want a house that fits in well with the rest size and look wise.
        Make sure that you check on the progress of the build as much as possible. My husband and I worked close enough to go there at lunchtime every day if we wanted.
        Take pictures as it’s being built. Being able to pinpoint the location of wiring and the pipes is very handy if there is a problem or you want to update/renovate later.
        Remember that almost every change will cost you more so try to make as many decisions as you can before you start.

      2. Aglaia761*

        My parents did this when they remodeled in 2009. My mom spent (no joke) 10 years designing the perfect house while they saved up.

        The builder and architect made a few changes to the design once she gave it to them, but for the most part, they built the house she designed.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Random tidbits:

      Building a house is one of the top five most stressful things you can do in life. You need to know that up front.

      It always costs more than they say it will. Have money set aside to cover unforeseens.

      It never runs according to schedule. Plan on that also.

      My bias is drainage. Most of the houses I have dealt with have had problems with the lot draining. If you build your house on the side of a hill you stand a good chance of having a problem with a damp basement. I have to say that because it seems to be really popular to put a house on a hillside. You would think water would go around the house but nope.

      Take the time to make sure you have good drainage set up. When they dig the hole for the foundation if there is water in the hole, watch out. When you buy a lot, check for willow trees and other vegetation that only grows in really wet areas. I have river grasses in my back yard. The river is underground. I never checked.

      As the house is being built show up, show up, show up. An active owner gets closer attention. Be nice, but ask questions. Definitely take photos as it goes up. You will not remember in years to come.

      Wait for times when the contractor is not there and check everything. Doors should open and close properly, locks should work smoothly, same for all the windows. Flush the toilet. Run the faucets, watch to make sure the drains are working. Bring trusted friends or family to look at the project with you, a fresh set of eyes is always good.

      Remember that most of the players in the story are not your ally. The building inspector, the mortgage grantor, the contractor, the insurance inspector, the realtor, etc, they are business people. Sure, they find things wrong and fix things. but do not count on them to find everything. Keep your eyes open at all times. If you want someone to discuss a problem with your best interests front and center, then you need to find a friend or trusted family member.

      Last do not equate new with being perfect. I have never seen a new build yet where the owner was entirely happy with the whole project. If you can hit most of what you want/like then you have done very well.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Have you looked at any books with floorplans? Just to get an idea of what you need and like? Then talk to an architect about what you like and need.
      Otherwise find out about zoning regulations where you plan to build the house, things like setback requirements. Where I live, you can’t build anything closer than 10 feet to the property line, and some neighbors have tried to challenge that requirement when they attempted to get permits to build a garage and some storage sheds in their back yard, but were unsuccessful.

    4. Anono-me*

      Please consider incorporating as much Universal Design or differently abled friendly features as possible. Even if you don’t need it now, you may in 50 years and most of them make life easier for everyone.

      Also, you can never have too many outlets.

      1. moss*

        Totally agree with this. Google “visitability” and use the recommendations there. It makes your house nicer to live in as well as increases the resale value.

  30. GRA*

    I don’t have an actual item to discuss, but I just want to say to everyone who reads and comments on this site that this is the only site I actually read comments. Alison has the best blog, and her commenters are the best. Happy 2017, Ask A Manager hive!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Right on.
      Thanks Alison and all, for everything.
      Wishing all the best for each of you in this new year.

  31. Mimmy*

    Alison – Did the Pepto Bismo (sp?) help last week with the stomach issues? I hope you are feeling better!

  32. Central Perk Regular*

    I hope this isnt too work-related…

    I work from home full-time and have for about three years. I used to be quite social and I have found myself becoming a lot more introverted since then. Im thinking of getting a part-time job at a local coffee or retail place, just to get more socialization. Has anyone else done this?

    1. Dan*

      If you live in a city, one option is communal work spaces that you can rent.

      What you bring up is the one reason I don’t have much desire to work from home/work remotely. I live by myself, and am a bit of an introvert, so if worked from home full time? I’d be a hermit.

    2. Zip Silver*

      You could always volunteer. Habitat for Humanity, an animal shelter, etc etc. Someone where you’d be working with other people.

    3. nep*

      When I returned to the US from overseas, it was a bit tough getting out and being sociable here. Taking a class really helped me, in that it got me interacting with people on a regular basis. Is there some kind of class you might want to take? Also agree volunteering would be good.
      All the best.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      I’m not sure that working another job is the best way to get out. I’d recommend volunteering, and preferably something you can do as much or as little as you want.

    5. Artemesia*

      Unless you need the money from a second job I’d explore things like meetup groups, book clubs etc to have regular social groups that you could then build on e.g. meet for lunch or films or museums etc with members of the group that you enjoy.

  33. Loopy*

    Trying to decide if I should bother staying up until midnight this year. I’m home alone and it almost feels silly to just sit up watching the TV. Still, it also feels unbearably dull to go to bed at my usual time (around 9:30).

    Anyone else on the fence about NYE? I’ve never been one to go out at all, period. I just don’t see the big deal about ringing in the new year. I guess I’m the new year’s grinch??

    1. Sherm*

      I’m a new year’s grinch, too :) Maybe I’m too left-brained, but I don’t really see the point. I can stay up until midnight any day that I want, so it’s not a big deal like it was when I was a kid. I suppose if I liked parties, it would be nice that the party had a theme, but I don’t. And I certainly wouldn’t relish the thought of driving with drunks on the road. I do like the the thought that the new year is a fresh start and the chance to help make it the best year ever, though!

    2. Elkay*

      I think new year’s is only good if you’re with a big group. I never am so I can’t get enthusiastic about it.

    3. Jenbug*

      NYE is overrated. I’ve stayed home by myself the last few years. I have some friends who I chat with online and I usually get myself a special food treat and then marathon a TV show or movie series. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going to bed early either :)

      1. Loopy*

        If I was going to stay up, this sounds like my speed! I do kind of like the idea of doing something a little fun and out of the norm, but wasn’t sure what exactly that would look like.

      2. Amadeo*

        Yeah, our family never really did anything special for it either. To the point where when I worked retail I volunteered for the New Year’s Day shift for that sweet time and a half because it was more or less just a day off for us.

    4. nep*

      New Year’s Eve I’m invariably in bed by 9 or 10. I see no significance or importance in being up at midnight. I no longer see it as being a grinch. Nothing wrong with partying past midnight either — just whatever works for the individual. No reason to follow what really is just conditioning if it doesn’t suit.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I go to bed. I can see where folks can have fun, but really, I’d rather get some good sleep. It’s usually the post holiday fatigue for me.

      Right now we are looking at a decent storm, the wind outside is brutal. I hope everyone stays safe.

    6. Lily Evans*

      I stay up past midnight most nights, no NYE isn’t special. But my family was never big on it, and in turn I don’t care about it that much. I’ve never been invited to a NYE party that tempted me to actually leave the house and deal with traveling on a holiday, and I already did a Christmas party this year, so I wasn’t about to throw one. And most places around me just get really crowded and charge cover fees and stuff and I just don’t care that much. I’ll just watch the ball drop on TV with my cat in my pajamas, thanks.

    7. Mimmy*

      I hear ya. It’s been years since we’ve gone out for NYE (all of our friends have moved away or started families), so we generally just sit at home and, if we are up, watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV.

      This year, DH says he’s not even going to try to make it to midnight. We didn’t even get champagne this year :( (he’s on a new medication this year that makes enjoying adult beverages more difficult – yes that’s a good thing in the long run, but it does stink in terms of celebrating).

      1. Mimmy*

        Adding after having read the other comments: I’m so glad others don’t stay up for NYE either and that it’s totally okay. I used to LOVE staying up as a teenager, watching the MTV year-end video countdown. Then I used to go out with my now-husband with his friends. Oh to be young again….

    8. KR*

      We are on the west coast so we stayed up until 9 to watch the ball drop and then went to bed. Best of both worlds.

    9. Clever Name*

      We had invited some friends over, but only a few could come, and then they cancelled at the last minute. So husband, 10 year old and I had fondue and watched superhero movies just the three of us. We stayed up until midnight and shot off those confetti things. It was pretty fun!

    10. Windchime*

      I don’t like New Year’s at all. Instead of feeling like a “fresh start! blank page!”, it’s always felt more like another year gone with nothing to show for it. Bah, humbug! But 2016 was a crappy year for me so I’m glad that it’s over. I had a couple of people over for steaks last night; everyone was gone by 7:30 and I think I went to bed by 11:30. I’m not much of a partier.

  34. crudruqa*

    Has anyone figured out how to give to charity without either being pestered to give more or being subjected to heart-breaking pictures or articles about the people or animals the charity is trying to help?

    Are there magic words donors can use that charities will respect and not add you to mailing lists (physical or e-mail) or share your info with other charities? I’ve tried in the past and my requests are usually ignored and then I have to decide if the pestering outweighs the good works the particular charity does. It can be frustrating.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “I am happy to donate but please put me on your do-not-contact list as well as on your do-not-share list.” Decent charities have both of those and will respect both of those requests (although it may take a mailing cycle or two for them to remove you from the first).

      1. Chilleh*

        Great recommendation, thank you! Now if I could just get American Red Cross from calling me at 7 in the morning on Sundays…

        1. hermit crab*

          Oh man, the Red Cross. A few months ago, they started calling me ALL THE TIME asking me to give blood. Sometimes they call multiple times a day! I gave blood exactly one time, nearly 10 years ago, and it didn’t work out well for anyone (there was an ambulance involved). And I’m AB+ so I’m skeptical of the messages they leave telling me that they have a desperate demand for my blood type. But it’s always a robo-call so I can’t figure out how to get myself off the list.

          1. DragoCucina*

            Yeah, they don’t seem to believe we’re not allowed to give. We lived in Belgium and Italy most of the 80s. Once right next to a dairy farm. We’re still in the “might have mad cow disease.” It’s like I have to prove I’m on their no go list.

          2. Chilleh*

            I actually was contacted by a live person and asked to be taken off the list. She said she would, and after awhile I wasn’t contacted. Then about a year later the robocalls came and I have been stuck in the same position you are. Sorry to hear about your experience giving blood!

    2. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I do all my giving online and I find it pretty easy to just delete emails or recycle letters soliciting further donations. I honestly don’t even look at them before discarding. If/when I want to give more, I will, and I know how to do that easily.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I gave $25 to Famous Charity ten years ago. They still have not stopped sending me letters. I think they have spent more than $25 on all their mailings. I only donated because of a request by the deceased family member. It was a one time thing. Am shaking my head…..

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I often just don’t give out a phone number or email address, and as Alison said, the legit charities will stop sending you postal mail if you ask. They don’t want to waste money if you are going to just put it straight into the recycle bin.

    5. AliceBD*

      The best way I have found:
      – for emails, just hit unsubscribe
      – for mailings, use their donation form with your name and address preprinted on it and write “Please take me off your list” or similar words. Put it into the donation envelope and mail it back to them.

      For both of them it can take a cycle or two for your name to be removed from the list, but they work pretty well. I don’t mind if I have to use a stamp to send the donation envelope back because to me the 47 cents (or whatever a forever stamp currently costs) is worth not having the hassle of dealing with the envelopes.

      I guess you can call them too, but that involves having to deal with remembering to make a phone call during my lunch break, and I have enough trouble remembering to make those for calls that I aren’t optional.

  35. Bomb Yogi*

    Similar to another question upthread – I deactivated my Facebook account (my only form of social media) earlier this week. When I would log on, I would find myself getting annoyed, frustrated, and angry. For those of you who have gotten off social media, how do you feel now? Happier? Less stressed?

    1. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I haven’t gone as far as deactivating Facebook, but I deleted the app from my iPad and phone (and I have a work laptop, so I never used FB on that anyway) after the election, because the whole fallout was making me really anxious. I log in using a mobile browser maybe once per week, since it is still a valuable tool for connecting with my alumni network and far-flung friends and family, and that’s enough. I think my reason for getting off isn’t as urgent now, but I don’t see going back to daily use.

    2. C Average*

      I’m loving being off Facebook. Haven’t officially deactivated, just erased the app from my phone and changed my password to something that’s annoying to type so I’ll be less inclined to log in. It’s done wonders for my mental health.

    3. Blackout*

      I haven’t deactivated my Facebook account, but I put up a news feed blocker that blocks out the news feed and instead shows a different inspirational quote each day. For me, this has resulted in MUCH less angst and overall negative emotions, and I feel much better about myself and my life.

    4. Username has gone missing*

      I only check Facebook about twice a month now and I do not miss it!

      I am, however, hooked on AAM…

    5. 14 years*

      I got rid of Facebook over a year ago and I’m much less stressed. I only have a twitter account now but I barely use that. I’m so much happier (even though I miss family pictures)

    6. catsAreCool*

      I haven’t gotten off of facebook, but I’ve started unfollowing people who post too much political stuff. It helped a LOT!

    7. printrovert*

      Like most here, I haven’t quit Facebook. I deactivated it for awhile at the beginning of the year and then again in the summer. Right now, I am using LeechBlock for Firefox to prevent me from accessing the site. Some of the people I follow post really interesting and insightful articles but the barrage of complaints in my news feed over the last few months had a draining effect of me. Not having access is great for keeping up productivity (excepting the holiday season when I don’t really have a lot to do).

  36. Adrienne*

    I have a question, I am visually impaired although I do have a little bit of sight. I can see something at the top of the page next to the ‘Ask a Manager’ logo’. Is it an avatar of Alison, I am not sure? It looks like a woman with red hair. The hair used to be longer but is now cut short, and she has a cellular phone in her hand. If I am incorrect could someone please share, I am very curious, thank-you.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes — it’s an avatar of me. In the winter, it changes slightly and wears a hat and scarf (which is probably why it appears to have shorter hair to you; the hair is tucked under the hat). She’s holding a megaphone rather than a cell phone (in a “listen to me!” way, not a cheerleader way).

      1. Lucy Westenra*

        And is the avatar here you sort of squinting over a cup of tea? (fine eyesight just really cheap graphics card and small picture)

    2. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Yes, it’s the cold weather Alison with her hair tucked into a red hat. I’d say she’s holding a megaphone instead of a phone.

    3. Mirror*

      It is the winter version of Alison. Her hair is tucked under a beanie and she’s wearing a scarf that’s blowing in the wind. In her hand is a bull horn.

  37. Emilia Bedelia*

    I’m getting a cat!!! I’ve been wanting one forever, and now that I have my own, pet friendly apartment, I finally went and picked one out at the shelter. She’s on hold until my landlord okays it with the shelter, so I won’t actually get to take her home until Tuesday, but I’m so excited!

    Now I just need to come up with a name, as I’m not a fan of the shelter’s name. Anyone have good name ideas for a young female tortie?

    1. Gene*

      Meerclar Allmother, the Creator of all in Tailchaser’s Song. Be prepared to explain the name. I can’t remember if her markings are described in the book.

    2. Rahera*

      Yay, exciting! I’d really love to see a photo :). Can’t think of any likely names at this point except Chloë for some reason, but if I have any brainwaves I’ll return.

      Emma, Agatha?

    3. Chilleh*

      Ooooh congratulations! I don’t have any suggestions, but I have read somewhere that a cat responds faster to a name that ends with an “ee” sound, like Emmy or Meowy or Toni or something of that sort. After having 2 cats with an “ee’ name and 2 cats without, I can see a little bit of truth to that but not enough that I would make the final decision based on it.